Media Release

​Support for Tasmanian oyster growers

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston
Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff


4 April 2016

The Australian and Tasmanian governments are working with Oysters Tasmania and growers to manage a disease affecting Pacific Oysters that can result in major production and economic losses.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, has announced $1.47 million to deliver critical measures to manage, contain and understand the incursion of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania.

“The quick action by the Australian and Tasmanian governments to identify the disease has allowed the state government and growers to quickly enact a state-wide standstill on oysters and oyster farming equipment to prevent the further spread of the disease,” Minister Joyce said.

“The Australian Government recognises how important the Tasmanian oyster industry is to the Australian industry more broadly and the value it has for the local economy.

“This funding will be critical in continuing efforts to manage the biosecurity risks and to best position industry for the future.”

The funding will be used to:
  • ​provide rapid and reliable diagnostic tools
  • engage personnel to advise industry of ways to successfully produce oysters in the presence of this disease and adapt its management approaches, and
  • offset the costs of recovering viable stock from infected farms and  removing non-viable stock.
​Minister Joyce said the Australian Government recognised that farm families, including oyster farmers, could experience difficulty in different ways at different times.

“The Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) provides free rural financial counselling to farmers, fishing enterprise operators and small agriculture-dependent rural business operators who are suffering financial hardship,” Minister Joyce said.

“A number of oyster farmers in Tasmania are already being assisted.

“Farm Household Allowance (FHA) is available at all times. FHA provides eligible farmers and their partners who are experiencing financial hardship with income assistance and support to improve their long-term financial situation.”

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, said the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) was also helping the industry by investing $150,000 in research and assistance to combat the effects of POMS and to accelerate the existing breeding program to produce higher levels of resistant oysters.

“This funding has gone to Oysters Australia, Oysters Tasmania and the Australian Seafood Industries, who will each play a key role in developing a national response approach to combat this issue, and will include a research and industry assistance component,” Minister Ruston said.

“The Coalition Government has worked hard to give some comfort back to those people who really have been devastated by the impact of the POMS virus in Tasmania, and further funding assistance will certainly go a long way in combating it. 

“We stand side by side with the Tasmanian Government in ensuring that the impact of POMS is as small as it possibly can be for the industry, and of course those families and businesses who are a part of it.”

Minister Rockliff has welcomed the Australian Government’s support for the funding applications Tasmania made.
 
“Tasmania is internationally renowned for its pristine environment and quality produce,” Minister Rockliff said.
 
“We are determined to maintain our deserved reputation as a provider of quality seafood to the world, especially since the Tasmanian hatcheries supply 95 per cent of the required oyster seed Australia wide.
 
“The Tasmanian Government has also announced a $7.6 million POMS recovery package today to demonstrate our commitment to rebuild this iconic Tasmanian industry.
 
“I look forward to continuing to work with the Australian Government, local government, Oysters Tasmania and growers to ensure we get the best outcome we can in these difficult circumstances.”

Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome was detected in late January on some oyster leases in south-eastern Tasmania.

For more information on the range of Australian Government assistance for oyster farmers, farm businesses and rural communities, visit agriculture.gov.au/assistance.