Rare rock oyster expands WA aquaculture potential

Western Australia’s aquaculture industry is again attracting attention after reaching the first milestone in a research project to grow the tropical rock oyster industry across northern Australia.

The emerging Black Lip Rock Oyster species is well suited to rapid growth in northern Australian waters.

Researchers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPRID) have successfully grown a Black Lip Rock Oyster using brood stock collected from Cone Bay in the Kimberley and bred in the department’s marine shellfish hatchery in Hillarys.

The breeding program is part of a three-year research project to develop the industry in WA and the Northern Territory.

The Black Lip Rock Oyster spat will continue to be grown in the hatchery until it is relocated to one of the northern research trial sites off the Karratha and Derby coastlines in September.

The oyster is a fast grower and expected to perform well in northern tropical conditions, making it a good economic option for farmers to consider and potentially attracting investment to expand the industry.

Although it is early stages, it is estimated that when the fishery is up and running every 1,000 tonnes of oysters produced will create 250 jobs regional jobs.

DPIRD is working closely with key partners Maxima Pearling Company, the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, the Albany multi-species shellfish hatchery and gear suppliers Hexcyl Systems, SEAPA Oyster Basket Systems and Zapco Aquaculture.