Oyster farmers cry foul
By NADINE FISHER
THE world is your oyster ? but only if you are a grower on the Hawkesbury River, it seems.
Tweed oyster growers feel they have been 'shucked aside' following the announcement that their Hawkesbury River counterparts will receive substantial NSW Government assistance in the wake of a disease which has crippled the local industry there.
"It'd be nice if we got some support from the State Government too," Tweed oyster grower Gary Kirkham said, after hearing of the rescue package announced for the Hawkesbury growers.
Mr Kirkham's family has been in the oyster industry since the 1950s, and have struggled through many difficult times.
Mr Kirkham, who now runs Kirkham's Famous Terranora Lakes Oysters, said the QX parasite, which has wiped out stock on the Hawkesbury River, went through his Tweed lease some time ago.
The NSW government has promised 200,000 QX-resistant juvenile oysters to assist Hawkesbury producers as well as a $200,000 grant to supply more next year to coincide with oyster production season.
"I'm pretty annoyed to hear that they received assistance ? I guess we're not close enough to Sydney and the politicians," Mr Kirkham said.
"We've had our fair share of other problems with growing oysters too ? none that were our fault ? and yet we have never received any assistance."
He believed the QX parasite was in the water all the time and when the oysters were under stress it came in to clean them out to keep the waterways healthy.
"This is the first time I've heard of anyone in the oyster industry receiving assistance from the government and I hope they get back on their feet," he said. "But the sad part is the whole industry needs a lot of help not just the Hawkesbury.
"It'd be nice for us on the Tweed to get a grant and be able to clean up here a bit and get Tweed stock replenished ... because it's a damned hard business to be in."