Underwater eyes on oysters

THE Tasmanian oyster industry will soon benefit from a new sensor network technology that will provide real-time data and monitor water temperature, salinity and depth.

The innovation comes after a statewide $1.25 million investment to provide the industry with real-time remote monitoring capabilities to help future-proof the industry. 

Primary Industries and Water Minister Jo Palmer said Tasmanian oysters were very much a part of the state’s brand.

“The Tasmanian oyster industry is known globally for its high-quality product, and we want to continue supporting our farmers to be innovative and resilient,” Ms  Palmer said.

“The majority of sensors are now installed, with the program of routine maintenance and monitoring under way.”

Sensors will be installed in more than 30 growing areas and 50 harvest zones.

Manager of oyster producer Cameron of Tasmania, Ellen Duke, said the oyster industry was unique because of the little control they have over the environment oysters are farmed in.

“We are a 100 per cent reliant on the water quality where we are farming, therefore things like the sensor network give us a sense of strong management,” Ms Duke said.

“The sensor network gives us all this real time data and rather than waiting for results to come back from the lab samples or weather stations, we’ve got current accurate data to make those decisions.”

The sensors are powered by solar panels which and take samples in the water and feed it back to a shell point porter where farmers are able to access the data.

“Essentially the network will give better management decision making tools which allows us to ensure the quality and the safety of our product and support the brand for Tasmania,” Ms Duke said.

Barilla Bay Oysters general manager Justin Goc said that his operations had multiple benefits from having access to real time data with the sensor network.

“It allows my staff to make educated decisions for what they have to do in the coming week and obviously to help particularly with the tide here,” Mr Goc said.

“The tide is really affected by hectopascals, the weather and the data we’re generating can help with efficiencies with determining when they can come into work and when have to stop or grab oysters.

“From a selling point of view, we can see instantaneously when there’s been an impact from terrestrial influences that obviously will have impact of human health.

“I don’t think there’s such a thing as a bad oyster. All regions grow great oysters and certainly at certain times of the year Tasmanian oysters are at their best.”

The oyster industry has worked closely with the state government, NRM south and the Tas Farm Innovation hub which is federally funded to for its launch.