NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner supports a push by local oyster farmers for a cross-portfolio approach to stimulate the South Coast economy, particularly in their industry.
Representatives from leading oyster industry association Australia's Oyster Coast (AOC) met with Mr Stoner, who is also Minister for Trade and Investment, and NSW Finance Minister Andrew Constance in Eden last week to discuss a possible oyster and food tourism led regional development funding package.
“The estuaries of Australia's Oyster Coast, from the Shoalhaven to the Victorian border, produce world class oysters,” AOC executive officer Andrew Wales said.
“Our oyster farmers are working together under strong environmental and quality standards and have developed a strong brand that identifies that quality. We now want to work with the NSW Government to build on these credentials and create more jobs and growth in the region.”
Discussion centred on a bold cross-portfolio approach by government to coordinate initiatives to boost oyster tourism and support entry into export markets, particularly Asia.
“Australia's Oyster Coast is well positioned to begin a targeted export program and there’s enormous potential to develop a strong domestic oyster and food tourism market which would create extra jobs in the region,” Mr Wales said.
“But these initiatives cross several government portfolios including Trade and Investment, Primary Industries, Tourism and Environment and that creates barriers to achieving this potential.”
These barriers include costs associated with gaining approval to export to some overseas markets, fencing of rivers and installation of vessel pump out facilities to protect water quality, developing export and inbound tourist networks, and the upgrade of Moruya airport.
AOC adviser and Narooma Oyster Festival spokesperson Cath Peachey said Deputy Premier would support a coordinated approach to overcome these barriers.
“He understands the issues and our desire for a broad regional package he and other Cabinet Ministers could champion,” she said.
“It makes good sense given Australia's Oyster Coast’s initiatives, the region’s growing reputation through events like Narooma Oyster Festival, EAT Merimbula and the Shoalhaven River Festival, and its stunning beauty.”
This successful meeting comes on the back of strong support from our local Member Andrew Constance and Primary Industries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson who launched Australia's Oyster Coast brand at last year’s oyster festival.’
It also coincides with the launch of Australia’s Oyster Coast Oyster Trail at the Oyster Festival on April 5.
The AOC will work with other stakeholders to develop a regional development funding proposal to take to the Department of Premier and Cabinet for discussion.