What's the largest Aquaculture Industry in NSW? = Oyster Industry

By Robert McCormack
Category: Articles

The biggest aquaculture producer in NSW is the Oyster Industry with a value of nearly $60,000,000.00/year farm gate. It's mostly Sydney Rock Oysters (Saccostrea glomerata) production, which are considered as the very best oysters on the planet.

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However, three species of oysters are grown in NSW, the Sydney rock oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) which have a triangular-shaped shell being reasonably smooth. Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) which have a spikier shell and black edge on the meat, and the Native, flat oyster (Ostrea angasi) with a flatter shell.


It's not just the NSW oysters that are the best in the world it's the whole NSW Oyster industry itself. The owners and operators are knowledgeable and innovative all working together to ensure a high quality, healthy product.

Relying on a healthy estuarine environment, oyster growers maintain vigilant surveillance of water quality under a world-class food safety program to ensure that quality, healthy products reach consumers.

The oyster industry prospers because they all stakeholders work together towards the betterment of their industry, local councils, catchment managers, NSW Fisheries, EPA, NSW Food Authority, NSW Roads & Maritime, etc.  


The NSW Department of Primary Industries has generated a new publication "Aquaculture in NSW, FACTS & FIGURES 2020". It's a great publication but reflects the small size of our NSW land based aquaculture industry compared to the large size of the NSW Oyster Industry.That said, the oyster industry has been around for a long time.

Oysters for food has been around for a long time with oyster shells in Aboriginal middens along the coast, being carbon dated back to 6,000 BC. With the colonisation of NSW by Europeans, oysters were also gathered for food and burnt in large quantities (alive or dead) to provide lime for building mortar. As a result of these activities, wild oyster stocks were quickly depleted and in 1868 legislation was passed to prohibit the burning of live oysters for lime. This legislation and the demand for edible oysters, fostered the establishment of commercial oyster cultivation practices during the 1870’s. In 1884 the Oyster Fisheries Act was proclaimed, which regulated the gathering of oysters and the leasing of oyster beds (NSWOISAS).

Today there are 269 oyster farming permits in NSW, spread across 32 coastal estuaries (see below)

The map below illustrates the estuaries used for oyster production in NSW.


References; Documents and further reading

Aquaculture in NSW, FACTS & FIGURES 2020   READ MORE

NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy  READ MORE