Local oyster grower Paul North fattens his stock for Christmas

Oysters are seeing an upward movement in price. (left) Outsize Pacific Oysters grown by Paul North. (right)
Oysters are seeing an upward movement in price. (left)
Outsize Pacific Oysters grown by Paul North. (right)

 

IF you thought that $60 for a dozen oysters was out of the question, think again.

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A perfect storm has been gathering in Tasmania whereby the POMS virus (Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome) has seen a ban on the movement of oyster spat to the growing areas of South Australia and NSW.

This, in turn, has led to a scarcity and an upward movement in prices.

‘Tides’ restaurant at Tilligerry RSL currently charges $3 each for oysters natural and $3.50 each for oysters kilpatrick or mornay.

Industry pundits predict that at the peak demand time of Christmas, $60 per dozen could very well be the norm in the classier seafood restaurants.

Local farmer Paul North can see the demand escalating even at this early stage: “I can sell anything I produce at the moment but I’m keeping a lot of stock back to grow out and fatten,” he said.

“After a few testing years, this season has been perfect for growing and with the upward price movements, summer sales should be great,” he added.

Currently, growers receive $10.50 per dozen for bagged plate oysters.

Some years back, a niche market in Pacific oysters developed whereby growers in South Australia were getting $100 each for oysters (and that’s not a misprint).

Top line Asian restaurants wanted large lobsters, prawns and oysters for centerpiece table decorations and would pay this price for oysters.

Paul started to farm outsize Pacific oysters for this market but the demand was weak.

“It’s best to concentrate on one thing at a time,” he said.

“Sydney rock oysters are the most reliable type up here, so I’m sticking with them.”

 

By Geoff WALKER

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