Day 47 – Oyster Bay

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With less than 24 hours notice, Ewan McAsh was kind enough to spare me a couple of hours this morning. He’s a newbie oyster farmer – about 5 years ago he and his father bought an oyster farming business in Batemans Bay, on the Clyde river.

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I just like photos of sheds

They’ve had a tough time getting going, but after a lot of investment, the business is starting to work. Currently they are producing about 60,000 dozen oysters a year, and have capacity to more than double this number. Traditionally these have all been Sydney Rock oysters, but now they are also farming Pacifics and Angasis. As with most farming, monocultures are dangerous, and there is a risk that disease can kill an entire batch of oysters, which in the case of the native Sydney Rocks, take around 3 years to grow. This can be a business killer, so they welcome the extra diversity.

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This is a new innovation for the Clyde river. Traditionally the oysters grow on heavy trays that need a crane to lift them out of the water. These smaller containers only weigh a few kilos and are much easier to handle

It’s refreshing, and unusual, to find someone working in agriculture who thinks their sector is inefficient and undersupplied, as well as having low barriers to entry. This is Ewan’s view of oysters in Australia, and so he has some big plans for the future. There has already been a restaurant in nearby Ulladulla (currently in the process of being sold, so he can have his weekends back), and he spends a lot of time working with restaurants to promote his brand. I’m not sure if he wants to be a farmer or a marketer. Perhaps both?

And do they taste good? Yes! Can’t get any fresher than this:

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Angasi oysters on the left, Pacifics on the right