The world no longer our oyster

SEAFOOD lovers will be disappointed to discover a delicacy missing from some of their favourite Coffs Coast restaurants.

The NSW Food Authority has closed 70 per cent of the State's oyster farming areas following heavy rainfall in the past month and it is causing a statewide shortage of native shellfish.

Only 27 of the 88 lease areas across the State are still open for harvesting.

The closures are part of the industry's quality assurance program, meant to guarantee public health.

None of the estuaries will reopen until testing has confirmed the absence of faecal coliforms.

Of those areas, still open are the Kalang, Wooli and Nambucca rivers.

The owner of Urunga Oysters and Kalang River grower, Tony Shields, said he has been run off his feet.

"The South Coast should be selling truckloads at this time of the year but because the Pambula and Hawkesbury rivers are temporarily closed we have been trying to make up for the shortfall," he said.

"Traditionally we don't start to harvest until September but we have been selling about 300 dozen a week to clubs and pubs for the past month.

"The oysters are not as fat as what most are probably used to and don't have the same creamy taste as the summer time but they are still ordering them big time.

"Unfortunately we don't have enough to go around."

The owner of Scoffs Seafood and Grill Restaurant said they haven't had oysters on the menu for more than a week.

"We normally sell five to 10 dozen a night. It's disappointing considering it's holiday time," she said.

The Coffs Harbour Fisherman's Co-op has been flat out selling oysters.

Seafood manager Jen Bowering said their oysters were sourced from the Wooli River.



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