Since 2006, oyster growers along the New South Wales south coast have been working to improve the environmental sustainability of their businesses. Through funding and support from the New South Wales and Australian Governments, farmers 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.
In late 2012, there was increased discussion among growers about how they could leverage these new environmental credentials. There’s no other region in Australia – and possibly the world – where every oyster-growing estuary operates to an environmental management system. The growers felt there was a terrific opportunity to build on this achievement by branding themselves as the most environmentally sustainable oyster growing region in the world. With aggressive national and international promotion and marketing, this branding of the industry would build the prestige of south coast oysters, enabling growers to command a premium price for their product. Equally, the brand would draw in visitors who’ll want to experience the region and its produce first–hand.
It was decided that a bold brand should be developed and marketed proactively, with growers managing this brand through a new industry association. From this, ‘Australia’s Oyster Coast’ was born – a brand, an industry association, and a destination.
In 2015, the association took the next bold step of commercialising into a fully-fledged company, with oyster farmers becoming shareholders and professionals and business people appointed to the management and Board to lead the company as it develops and deploys its domestic and international programs.