New paper examines rise and fall of Oyster populations in the Georges River

Oysters on a plate

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major affect upon all of our lives and we hope that the measures we are all taking will minimise harm. Unfortunately, pandemics occur periodically, effecting different species and in some cases have devastating effects. Such was the case for cultivated oysters in the Georges River.

Oyster farming in the Georges River was one of Australia’s earliest aquaculture ventures. But, death of cultivated oysters became the ‘canary in the mine’ warning of the deteriorating health of the Georges River. This is explained by Georges Riverkeeper’s Aquatic Ecologist, Dr. David Reid, in a recent paper titled, The rise and fall of oyster cultivation in the highly urbanised Georges River estuary, Sydney, Australia: A review of lessons learned published in Regional Studies in Marine Science.

Two major diseases, known as winter mortality and QX, were responsible for decimating farming of Sydney rock oysters. Effects of disease were devastating for the local oyster industry, but a breeding program designed to promote disease resistance was established. “It’s hoped that lessons learned from the Georges River can be heeded and used to help other estuaries avoid a similar fate in the loss of their valuable fisheries resources, ” Dr. Reid says.

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