It has been a while since I have mentioned much about the native angasi oyster. At present we have a new crop of young angasi’s in our land based up-weller tanks, growing them from less than 1 mm to over 4 mm so we can put them out onto our leases in the Inlet. They are growing well with the first batch being put out this week.
We have large numbers of flats coming through for sale with one of our leases nearer the ocean entrance producing a slightly smaller oyster with a distinct lingering flavor, that I find really tasty. I think oyster lovers will find these particulary nice.
It is interesting to observe that we have been growing and breeding flat oysters for more than 15 years and overall they are doing well. We have had some mortalities and this has been been due to our lack of knowledge in handling them correctly. In other places around the world they have proved difficult to grow and breed, and suffered from a disease called bonamia. We have a strain of this disease but our management seems to minimize its affect.
Interest is growing and other shellfish producing area in Australia and around the world are experimenting in growing them to diversify their income base and hedge against diseases that could affect their Pacific Oyster Industry. Victorian Mussel Growers are 2 years into their trials and the angasi’s seem to be growing well on their deep water mussel leases in Port Phillip Bay. They source their young stock from their Queenscliff Hatchery which produces mussles and scallops. Interest is also being shown in South Australia where they also occur naturally.
Overseas interest has also occurred. Skip Bennett from Island Creek Shellfish near Boston on the east coast of the USA paid us a visit last year. As far as I know he bred some O.edulis in his own hatchery this last summer and I will be interested to hear from him about how they are going. Brian Kingzett from the Deepwater Shellfish Research Centre at Nanimo Canada also came down with a view to breeding their wonderful O.olympia and using it restock shorelines. This small oyster is very rare now and once was the mainstay of the shellfish Industry along west coast of USA and Canada. A very good read, if you can find it is a small book called the Living Shore by Rowan Jacobsen describing the discovery of the last remaining population of wild Olympia oysters on a remote shoreline on Vancouver Island. New Zealand is working on breeding and growing O.chilenus the famous Bluff Oyster a slightly different oyster to ours and we have done some work with in Sweden on O edulis and it would be good to do some more with British and French oyster farmers to see if some of our techniques used here in Australia might help improve their flat oyster production.
I suppose the reason behind all this is the Ostera species of oysters are rare and command very good prices therefore commercially they are worthwhile growing. I think it is also important to re-introduce a species to the marine environment that has been neglected and over harvested in the past and reduced to remnant populations.