Lease fee relief could be just around the corner for Eyre Peninsula oyster growers affected by a spat shortage if a proposal by the South Australian Oyster Growers Association (SAOGA) gets a positive response from the state government.
The Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) outbreak in Tasmania in 2016 left oyster growers with little or no income for 2018 due to spat shortages.
The association’s executive officer Trudy McGowan said the association provided a proposal for fee relief to the state government in January this year.
She said the industry was hoping for a positive response as growers were facing a tough 18 months.
Ms McGowan said the industry was now waiting to see what the state government would come back with and expected a response in the coming days.
Member for Flinders Peter Treloar has also been petitioning the state government to waive fees and charges for oyster growers as growers and businesses were “suffering significant financial stress”.
Mr Treloar asked Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell about fee relief in parliament last year and in a follow-up letter but said he was still waiting for a response.
He said if elected, a Marshall Liberal government had committed to waiving government fees and charges for oyster growers until the industry recovered.
“Government fees and charges are placing an unnecessary burden on growers at this difficult time and I urge the (Fisheries) Minister yet again to move to waive these fees to assist the businesses to recover,” Mr Treloar said.
“We are a few months down the track now and we have already seen many jobs lost in the industry.”
He said the job losses and reduced productivity meant the oyster industry was “really hurting”.
“I ask again that the state government assist this critically important industry by waiving government fees and charges while they are going through this very distressing time,” he said.
Mr Bignell said fee relief was part of a broader range of support measures for oyster growers being considered by the government.
He said the state government had provided support to oyster growers since the initial outbreak of POMS in Tasmania stopped spat imports from the state, including more than $1 million in financial assistance and a range of operational support measures.