Keeping tropical oyster farming on track

Researchers installing longlines for oysters on Groote Eylandt, NT
DAC Anindilyakwa rangers installing Hexcyl oyster longline infrastructure - Groote Eylandt. Photo Samantha Nowland, ALSR

Over the past two months, Fisheries Division staff from the NT Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, have travelled to Groote Eylandt and South Goulburn Island to assist with the construction of oyster trial longlines and data collection for the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) tropical oyster trials.

The three year, $4.1 million project brings together a consortium of participants including the Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, the Western Australian Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development (WA DPIRD), industry leaders, researchers, and Aboriginal stakeholders from Western Australia and the Northern Territory to develop the Tropical Rock Oyster industry in the north.

Fisheries researchers regularly collaborate with project participants the Yagbani Aboriginal Corporation and the Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) at South Goulburn and Groote Eylandt (NT) respectively.

Activities during August saw collaboration with Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers (ALSR), in construction of two 50 metre Hexcyl adjustable longlines and supporting infrastructure at Thomson Bay. Longlines consist of lines anchored at both ends from which baskets are hung to rear shellfish. An existing spat collector was also inspected and 200 juvenile oysters were harvested and stocked on the longline. It’s expected that once spat has been produced at the Darwin Aquaculture Centre, they will be used to stock this new longline.

Earlier this month, in collaboration with Yagbani Aboriginal Corporation (YAC), Fisheries Division staff measured, weighed and cleaned the Goulburn Island trial oysters before returning them back to the oyster line for future growth. The team also assisted YAC with the installation of strainer posts for an additional oyster line that will enable YAC to expand their oyster farm.

This cross-jurisdictional project aims to transform Northern Australia’s aquaculture sector and increase capacity within Aboriginal communities to participate in the sustainable growth of commercial aquaculture businesses on country.

Read more about the Tropical Rock Oyster R & D project.

Published by the Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade  22 September 2020