Environmental sustainability forms the foundation of the entire Australia’s Oyster Coast industry and brand. Through funding and support from the NSW and Australian Governments, local oyster growers have worked with Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority and OceanWatch to develop and implement estuary-wide oyster Environmental Management Systems to increase industry sustainability and profitability.

Environmental Management System

Oyster growers in all major oyster growing estuaries in the region now operate to an environmental management system. This system is a simple yet powerful approach to environmental management where farmers identify all environmental issues that pose a risk to their business and the wider catchment, and then systematically work to address those risks through on-the-ground action. These actions vary from upgrading to more environmentally friendly infrastructure, to raising awareness of catchment issues in local communities.

The benefits of the environmental management systems are already being noticed among farmers. Aside from the environmental advantages of moving to cleaner production methods, the environmental management systems are bringing individual farmers together to tackle issues as a united group.

There is no other area in Australia and possibly the world that can make this claim. It therefore presents an opportunity for oyster growers to build on this achievement by branding themselves as the most environmentally sustainable oyster growing region in the world.

Significant environmental risks facing the estuaries and oyster industry

  • Effluent discharge into waterways (cattle, failing septic and sewerage systems, houseboats, inadequate toilet facilities)
  • Urban development and unapproved earthworks
  • Inconsistent environmental flows from dam releases
  • Agricultural run off
  • Use of tarred infrastructure
  • Exposure of acid-sulphate soils (distrubance/drought/drainage)
  • Bank/gully erosion through stock trampling & flood waters

How the oyster industry has been addressing these risks

  • Direct engagement with Council, landowners and the community over effluent, development and run off issues
  • Installation of sewerage facilities for houseboats and other river users
  • Fencing of foreshore areas
  • Liaison with Catchment Authority over dam releases
  • Fencing of foreshore areas
  • Ongoing changeover to environmentally sustainable infrastructure (e.g. recycled plastic trays and baskets)