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‘Awesome and tasting great’: Oyster farmers thrilled with first harvest since March floods

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It has been an extended eight months for oyster farmers on the Hastings River, who’ve simply accomplished their first harvest for the reason that once-in-a-century flood occasion devastated the area again in March.

Fifth-generation oyster farmer David Tunstead stated producers had been predicting this 12 months to be their finest but.

“It was purported to be our greatest 12 months ever, however after the floods tore via right here. I used to be fortunate to have any oysters left.”

Mr Tunstead stated he misplaced a whole lot of 1000’s of {dollars}’ price of oysters within the pure catastrophe.

“As a result of water got here round in such a torrent, it tore all the things up,” he stated.

“All my infrastructure, plenty of my floating bag methods acquired washed to shore, and loads acquired washed out to sea.”

Roughly 4,000 baskets — that every maintain round 9 dozen oysters — had been swept away by floodwaters.

“Of the oysters that remained and did not float to sea, we had a few 20 per cent mortality,” he stated.

An oyster shed with crates, tables, eskys, tools floating everywhere in brown water covering the floor.
On the peak of the flood, water was as much as the roof of Mr Tunstead’s oyster shed. (Provided: David Tunstead)

Mr Tunstead stated it was an analogous story for his neighbours.

“The farmer subsequent to me misplaced near half 1,000,000 {dollars} price of produce and infrastructure,” he stated.

Oysters bounced again higher than ever

Mr Tunstead stated clear water did not return to the Hastings River for 5 weeks.

“We had brown water washing down from the mountains the entire time,” he stated.

“It is not good [having no clear, salt water] for the oysters. It is like operating a marathon with a sick abdomen,” he stated.

“You’ll be able to’t contact them. You have got to allow them to have round two weeks of excellent water.”

Mr Tunstead stated he was relieved to seek out his inventory recovered effectively.

“The Hastings has an excellent high quality oyster, they usually’ve bounced again superbly,” he stated

Close up of a juicy oyster in man's hand.
Mr Tunstead stated Sydney rock oysters that survived the flood have bounced again and high quality hasn’t been affected. (ABC Rural: Keely Johnson)

Again to creating gross sales

Mr Tunstead stated he had been in a position to provide just a few native seafood outlets with oysters from his newest harvest.

“The fish outlets are a bit sluggish. We’re nonetheless promoting some oysters, however nothing in comparison with the quantity we had been promoting final 12 months due to COVID-19 restrictions,” he stated.

“I have been promoting just a few dozen from my flatmate’s storage on a Friday afternoon. It has been a enjoyable little enterprise.

Mr Tunstead stated he normally equipped a number of high-end eating places in Sydney, however that market had been stunted resulting from COVID-19. 

“The Sydney market continues to be lifeless. All of the eating places are nonetheless ready for COVID-19 restrictions to ease additional, I feel,” he stated.

Mr Tunstead stated he was trying ahead to the summer season holidays.

“We missed Christmas final 12 months as a result of we had floods in early December after which missed Easter too,” he stated.

“Christmas and Easter give us a bit bit extra of a money enhance, particularly from the locals.”

Mr Tunstead stated he would be ready when the orders begin rolling on this Christmas. 

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