GOOD EATING: An oyster bed at Wooli. QX disease is scaring oyster farmers out of the industry at an alarming rate.
GOOD EATING: An oyster bed at Wooli. QX disease is scaring oyster farmers out of the industry at an alarming rate.

QX disease threat to local oyster industry

BY ADRIAN MILLER

AN OYSTER disease found in the Clarence, Richmond, Tweed and Brunswick rivers threatens local oyster production and could destroy the Sydney Rock Oyster industry, a local farmer has warned.

The QX disease, which stands for 'Queensland unknown', only affects the Sydney Rock Oyster and is prevalent in warmer climates such as northern NSW and southern Queensland.

Between 1965-66 and 1999-2000 the oyster production of the Clarence, Tweed and Richmond rivers dropped 60 per cent due to farmers leaving the industry because of the disease.

NSW Premier Bob Carr announced on Tuesday $200,000 in funding for oyster farmers on the Hawkesbury River where the disease has wiped out the oyster population.

Wooli's The Oyster Farm owner, Brian Shanahan, said the disease could prove disastrous for the Sydney Rock Oyster industry.

"You've got to have so much supply and if we get down to only a few places supplying, you can't meet the market and then Pacific Oysters take over," he said.

"I just don't see it as a good thing for the industry."

The QX disease, which does not affect humans, has also been responsible for decimating the oyster population of Georges River, Sydney.

In a seven-year period, oyster production dropped 80 per cent in the river because of QX.

Mr Shanahan, whose oyster farm is unaffected by QX, said Georges River was an example of how devastating QX could be.



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