Batemans Bay oyster farmers have just been given the stamp of approval to export their renowned product overseas for the first time in their 100 years on the Clyde River.
Bay Rock Oysters owner Audrey Thors said the farmers had been testing the river’s water quality for 15 years to prove their produce was of export-quality standard.
She said their hard work had finally paid off.
“We have a water-quality insurance program on the Clyde River, and we have been testing water quality since 1997,” she said.
“Now we’ve achieved an export-quality standard. To reach this is extremely exciting.”
The oyster farmers’ achievement and this year’s harvest will be celebrated in style on Saturday night at the Seaside Carnivale’s dinner and dance.
“We can harvest fresh from the sea and harvest with confidence that we know the quality of our water is of a high standard,” Ms Thors said.
She will make the most of the export-quality oysters and hopes to export her produce to restaurants in Asia next year.
“I’ll be skipping in the new year!” she said.
While she already sells her oysters to restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, being able to export overseas opens up a whole new market.
Clyde River farmers grow the tasty Sydney rock oyster, which is indigenous to NSW, and can last 21 days after harvest, unlike other oyster species.
Now Batemans Bay growers will be able to share their high-quality shellfish with the rest of the world, which in turn will promote the purity of the Clyde River.
“There are a lot of indigenous oysters in Europe but they’ve been eradicated due to the water quality,” Ms Thors said.
“The Clyde River oyster industry is over 100 years old. It’s nice to get it out to the rest of the world.”
Ms Thors said the farmers wouldn’t have been able to grow export-quality oysters without the community’s help.
“Thanks to the Batemans Bay community for being responsible for keeping water quality to the standard that it is,” she said.
However, she warned that the farmers could lose their export licence if the water quality declined and urged people to help maintain the river’s pristine quality by not polluting it.
According to Ms Thors, exporting overseas isn’t just good news for local farmers, but for consumers as well.
She said six Sydney rock oysters contained zinc, potassium and magnesium equal to that in a saucepan-full of spinach.
“The flavour of the Clyde River oyster is a connoisseur’s delight,” she said.
“The flavour explodes in your mouth.”
The seafood dinner and dance on Saturday night will commence at 6.30pm at Catalina Sports and Leisure Club, and the Seaside Carnivale and parade will run from 9am to 3pm on Sunday at Corrigans Beach.