20 November 2019

Moruya shellfish hatchery a step closer

| Alex Rea
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Oyster leases

Oyster leases on the Moruya River. Photo: Alex Rea.

The construction of a state-of-the-art hatchery facility on the Moruya River to supply shellfish spat (babies) to the NSW oyster and mussel industry is a step closer after Eurobodalla Council signed a contract to design, build and operate the facility. The project aims to meet a major challenge for the shellfish industry of sourcing reliable, quality oyster spat.

Eurobodalla Council announced the deal with Sea Perfect (NSW) Pty Ltd last week. The experienced shellfish supplier will build the facility $4.8 million facility on land located at the Moruya Airport precinct.

The hatchery will supply shellfish spat to local estuaries and other farmers in NSW and further afield, primarily Sydney rock oysters but also Pacific oysters and mussels. The hatchery also has potential as a training and research facility, export packing centre and ‘farm gate’ shopfront for visitors.

Moruya Airport

Moruya Airport at the mouth of the Moruya River. Photo: Supplied.

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes said it was a complex project in a complex industry.

“Now we’re on track to see the facility built and operating,” she said. “It will be brilliant for local growers with real potential to see Moruya and Eurobodalla become a significant supplier of shellfish spat.”

Sea Perfect managing director Ian Duthie said the NSW South Coast had a strong reputation for producing excellent shellfish.

“There are a few areas within the airport precinct that are being considered, with site appraisal being measured against the airport master plan and other considerations such as Aboriginal heritage,” Mr Duthie said.

Moruya River

Black swans and oyster leases on the Moruya River. Photo: Alex Rea.

“Once we get the actual site locked down the design can be finalised for that block, taking into consideration any requirements from the consenting authorities,” said Mr Duthie.

“It’s an exciting venture and we’re looking forward to helping ensure local producers have the quality seed needed to grow and develop their businesses, getting more oysters and mussels onto the plates of shellfish lovers.”

In the Marlborough Sounds of New Zealand, Sea Perfect was commissioned to design and build the SPAT NZ mussel hatchery which is worth around $200 million to the New Zealand economy. The SPATNZ hatchery opened in 2015 in Nelson and employs around 17 people, with the aquaculture industry expanding.

SPATNZ facility in New Zealand

Workers at the SPATNZ facility in New Zealand working with mussels. Photo: SpatNZ.

Building the state-of-the-art hatchery will include $2.3 million in funds from the Australian Government‘s Regional Jobs and Investment Packages program. Council applied for the funding in 2017 after local growers identified sourcing reliable, quality shellfish spat as a major challenge for the region’s shellfish industry.

The Moruya hatchery is scheduled to be completed by mid-2020.

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