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- Aloya oysters occur in the wild in Australian waters. They are cultivated and harvested in King George Sound in Albany, Western Australia.
- The operation, by Harvest Road, is the first commercial production of the species for seafood.
- The oysters are farmed on a longline system that is similar to conventional mussel farming techniques.
- The farming approach used by Harvest Road, and oyster farming in general, has a very low impact on our oceans.
- Akoya Oysters filter food from the water and do not require additional feed.
Harvest Road uses wild-sourced and captive-reared akoya oysters to breed their stock but to a level that would not impact on wild stock. The operation is moving exclusively to farm-sourced breeding stock, which is a typical pathway for shellfish aquaculture.
No additional feeds (beyond the plankton naturally present in the water body) or chemicals are used in Akoya oyster farming. There are no known disease or pollution issues related to Akoya oyster farming, though the species is new to aquaculture.
The area of the operation is a seasonally important habitat for humpback whales, southern right whales and flesh footed shearwaters. Long-nosed fur seals and dolphins are found in the area year round. Although there is a hypothetical risk for entanglements to occur in the longline farming method, there is a high level of confidence that there is no impact on these species in the area of operation. Previously the area had been used to farm mussels and there is no evidence of significant impacts from that activity. While the farming infrastructure causes a degree of modification to the natural environment they cause minimal damage, and are likely to provide a degree of shelter and habitat for other species.
Harvest Road intends to expand its farming within an ‘aquaculture development zone’ proposed by the WA state government. A basic ecological assessment of the proposed farming area has been conducted and no serious environmental concerns were identified.
There are basic management arrangements in place to monitor the impacts of farming on the natural environment, although the risk is likely low. Satellite imagery is being used to monitor any changes to seagrass beds in the clear waters where farming occurs, which should enable future management of this important habit.