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Establishing a commercial rock oyster industry, which would bring new jobs and stimulate economic activity to the Pilbara, is a step closer to reality with a research and development trial set to get underway in Flying Foam Passage off the Dampier coast later this year.
Pilbara Development Commission Chief Executive Officer Terry Hill said the project was a result of two years of research and industry engagement.
“Rock oysters already grow naturally in abundance on the Pilbara coast, and studies have shown the Pilbara’s environmental conditions, freight networks and extensive coastline make it well-suited to rock oyster farming,” Mr Hill said.
“This is the next step towards developing a commercial oyster industry by filling the knowledge gap that currently exists about how well oysters grow in a controlled environment.”
The Pilbara Rock Oyster Research and Development Project is a unique partnership between the Pilbara Development Commission, Fisheries Research Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government, City of Karratha, Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and Maxima Pearling Company.
“This partnership between government and industry demonstrates a broader commitment to economic diversification in the Pilbara, and is a great example of the type of leadership and collaboration that will drive economic growth and create new jobs,” Mr Hill said.
The project will assess the economic viability of oyster farming by considering cost, rate of growth and water quality parameters for cultured rock oysters.
Maxima Group Managing Director John Hutton will deliver a presentation about the project at the New Pilbara Economic Development Conference in Perth on Tuesday 29 August with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation Chair Raelene Cooper.
“There is enormous potential to develop a significant rock oyster industry in the Pilbara,” Mr Hutton said.
“Last year Maxima participated in a panel discussion at the same conference to promote the potential opportunity for oyster farming in the region, so it’s great to be taking the stage again this year and be talking about a project that’s now underway.”
Murujuga Rangers will assist the project with monitoring and sample collection, as well as providing environmental and cultural advice.
The final report will provide reliable base level data and information about the environmental conditions, the growth, mortality and disease profile of oysters grown in the Pilbara. The report will be used to promote the establishment of an aquaculture industry in the region by attracting private investors and commercial operators.
A research permit for the project site is currently under assessment. The project is estimated to take up to two years.
FRDC Project Reference: 2017-061 Pilbara rock oyster research and development program