Floods threaten supply of oysters for Christmas

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The supply of oysters in two of the largest oyster-growing regions on the East Coast is threatened, and Christmas tables this year may not include an Australian staple.

News of this investigation comes as authorities investigate links between “a gastro-like illness” in an area that is known to be one of the largest producers of Sydney Rock Oysters.

According to the Daily Telegraph, oysters from the Wallis Lake system, located near Forster and Tuncurry on the NSW mid-north coast, are being investigated. Authorities have shut down the harvesting and sale of the lake’s oysters since October 17.

According to the ABC, heavy rains and flooding have closed all oyster leases on the NSW south coast. This is just weeks before Christmas.

Closed estuaries along the South Coast account for nearly 60 percent of NSW oyster production.

Oysters filter their water, so the quality of the water can have an impact. When bacteria or levels of saltwater in waterways are not acceptable, then leases for harvesting can be closed.

A Wallis Lake oyster producer, who did not want to be identified, told The Daily Telegraph that the closure came at “the worst time” because it was so close to Christmas.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries spokesperson said: “The closure will continue until the safety of oysters from Wallis Lake can be confirmed.”

Pambula oyster farm owner Roy Glessing, who lives on the south coast of NSW, told ABC that after recent rains totaling 250 millimeters, he would not be able to harvest oysters until saltwater levels in the system rise.

He said it was hard to predict if the store would be open for Christmas and that the decision would depend largely on how much rain falls in the coming weeks.

Mr Glessing, whose oysters are shipped to Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney, said that the result could be shortages over Christmas. He also warned that oyster farmers along the NSW south coast may suffer a financial blow.

Many local farmers depend on the cash flow that occurs around Christmas. This is a good time to sell oysters.

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