Tasmanian Government announces $7.6m support for oyster farmers

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Image credit: www.FreeFigitalPhotos.Net by Yongkiet

Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff has announced a $7.6 million recovery package to help the Pacific oyster growers, nurseries and hatcheries recover from the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS).

An oyster farm Image credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net by Yongkiet
An oyster farm
Image credit: www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by Yongkiet

“In considering recovery actions, we have listened carefully to our POMS-affected farmers to develop a financial assistance package to ensure the long-term future of the industry in the state,” the Minister said in a statement.

“Today, we have established a $5 million POMS recovery concessional loan scheme to provide funding for stock recovery and clean-up of affected farms; operating costs necessary to restart, continue and redevelop operations while recovery occurs; to provide POMS-related infrastructure modifications and re-stock affected oyster farms, and for debt reconstruction.”

According to the Minister, the loan scheme is open to Tasmanian owned and operated oyster growers, hatcheries and nurseries located in POMS-affected areas, with the loans to amount to between $30,000 and $250,000, at various concessional loan rates.

Adertisement

“The Tasmanian Government will also provide a $1 million contribution towards the clean-up costs on oyster farms in the wake of the POMS outbreak. In addition, the Australian Government is providing $1.135 million dollars in funding towards this effort,” Mr Rockliff said.

“The total $2.135 million clean-up package will be administered by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment through a simple application process. Affected farms can apply for up to $4,500 per hectare that was under production and experienced POMS mortalities. Importantly, applications can be made for funds already spent in the clean-up, so that oyster growers who were proactive about their recovery can recoup some costs.”

In addition, the State Government will provide another 12 months of fee relief to support growers as they recover. This includes lease rental fees, licence fees for all marine farming leaseholders licenced to farm Pacific Oysters in the state and a waiver of the Tasmanian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program (TSQAP) levy and the Primary Produce Food Safety Accreditation fees.  According to Minister Rockliff, this further $793,000 fee waiver means that Tasmanian Pacific Oyster Growers will have 24 months of fee relief worth $1.6 million.

“I am pleased to also announce that the Tasmanian Government has also been successful in its application for funding as part of the Australian Government’s Immediate Assistance Fund (IAF) to assist with the incident,” the Minister said.

“The funding secured through our application will fund a Biosecurity Officer and an Industry Development Officer ($260,000) and will be used to purchase an RT PCR analyser ($75,000) in order to continue to provide laboratory results on the presence or absence of disease.”

According to the Minister, the Biosecurity Officer will work with industry groups and one-on-one with producers to improve the biosecurity of their enterprises, whereas the Industry Officer will work with the industry to look at alternative methods of management of Pacific oysters to ensure that oysters can continue to be grown sustainably in an environment infected with POMS.