Growing the oyster industry in the Northern Territory – new DAC program to ramp up fisheries

Image credit: User: Tina Phillips

A tropical oyster program at the Darwin Aquaculture Centre (DAC) is set to boost the fisheries industry in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Image credit:  User: Tina Phillips
Image credit:
User: Tina Phillips

The new program is qualified as a “major breakthrough” that will ramp up oyster production across Top End indigenous communities.

Minister for Primary Industry and Fisheries Willem Westra van Holthe announced that the aim of the program is to create a viable oyster business for the indigenous communities living in that region.

“Tropical oysters have never been cultivated in the Northern Territory before. My Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries (DPIF) has been working closely with communities on Goulburn and Melville Islands to look at suitable sea-based farming methods,” Minister Westra van Holthe said.

“Juvenile oyster spat are flown from the DAC to remote Indigenous communities. They are then grown close to shore in floating or fixed baskets. The fixed farm design trialled on Melville Island has shown good results for growth and survival, encouraging further trials in the region.”

According to the Minister, Aboriginal communities across the Territory coast will be involved in the industry.

“The NT Government is promoting the Territory as a gourmet food producer. This initiative has the potential to provide a nutritious food source to our Indigenous communities, while also potentially opening up the opportunity for commercial sales in the future,” he said.

“Oyster farming could provide business opportunities for Indigenous people across the Top End, giving them culturally suitable employment within their community. In addition to the work on oysters, research and development is also being conducted into giant clam and sea cucumber farming, with the intention of exporting to markets including the United States.”