Yellow Rock oyster farmer Mick Swanston (right) harvesting this year’s oysters with Mark Saggus.
Yellow Rock oyster farmer Mick Swanston (right) harvesting this year’s oysters with Mark Saggus. Rob Wright

Enjoying early oyster harvest

FOR the first time in years, Mick Swanston has begun an early harvest of his Bellinger River oysters.

“In recent years there has been so much rain we’ve often been unable to start until just before Christmas,” Mr Swanston said.

“But right now the water is beautiful, the salinity is good and the oysters are looking great.”

And that is in spite of the Department of Primary Industries declaring traces of the QX (marteilia sydney) parasite to be present in the Bellinger as well as the Kalang River.

Mr Swanston said it was most likely the traces came from oysters that had been moved from Kalang River leases before the discovery of the parasite there.

The DPI confirmed last week the parasite was present in various life stages, including sporulating (spore-forming) and non-sporulating forms, in an unspecified number of the 150 water samples taken from both rivers.

The parasite, which is not harmful to human health, has already killed a large number of oysters on Kalang River leases.

NSW DPI is discussing options to help affected growers, including rural financial counsellor support, fee waivers and farming assistance.



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