Oyster farmers on the Hawkesbury River on the NSW Central Coast are fighting to save the crippled industry as an outbreak of disease destroys oysters.
The industry been brought to its knees by the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) virus which devastated local farms in January 2013.
According to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), POMS destroyed 10 million oysters or up to $6 million worth of produce in a matter of days.
“One week after the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) took place government agencies and local councils met with Hawkesbury River oyster growers to provide immediate short-term social and economic support,” a DPI spokesperson said.
According to the Department, prior to the POMS outbreak, there were 15 oyster businesses operating in the area with $2.4 million worth of oysters sold annually.
Now there are only three farmers left struggling to meet cover costs of their business.
Oyster farmer determined to fight on despite devastation
Bruce Alford has been oyster farming on the Hawkesbury River in Mooney Mooney for the past 18 years.
His love of oysters started early when he was a child.
“We used to come to Patonga, which is right at the mouth of the Hawkesbury,” Mr Alford said.