Words: Barbara Barkhausen and Raj Suri
Photo credits: Raj Suri
On 1 September 2023 Tourism Australia invited FCA members to an oyster farm tour in the waters near Brooklyn, north of Sydney.
We traveled by bus from Sydney which was pleasantly a short drive of just over an hour using the new North Connex freeway.
It was a good experience for our members to see first hand how the Oysters are affected by climate change, floods and rising sea temperatures and, of course to taste fresh New South Wales Australian Oysters!
The tour was conducted by Sheridan Beaumont, third generation NSW Oyster farmer, who explained how this industry is adapting to the changing environment including the diversification into eco tourism.
Oysters act like a filter, which means they eat by filtering particles from the water around them. Some researchers even call them ‘ecosystem engineers’ for their ability to act as a filter for their environment. Consequently, they are susceptible to pollutants that come with floodwaters. Excessive additional water can also reduce a river’s salt concentration, which oysters need to survive and thrive.
The ash and smoke from the devastating 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires have also caused them harm, and a third danger is the QX parasite, which does not harm humans but infects Sydney rock oysters and causes them to lose condition and die during winter. At some stage in the past few years, the industry was close to shutting down but has now risen from the ashes and is thriving again.