Oyster farmer representative Mark Bully says the NSW industry is becoming increasingly concerned about planned coal-seam gas developments, which it says are not taking into account the needs of the industry.
Mr Bully told the ABC’s Rural Report this morning that oysters are an indicator species that can filter particles down to three microns, so there is great concern in the industry about activity in upper catchments that could lead to water degradation and particularly an increase in heavy metals downstream.
‘Oyster farmers are not against development as long as it’s done properly,’ he said.
‘The industry has suffered in the past due to poor development. We are concerned about the magnitude of proposals done without proper scientific research.
‘My understanding is a lot of water is used in CSG mining, and this water is taken off into settling ponds. If there’s a lot of rain, that stuff potentially could be washed into the upper part of the catchment. It would then run down into the lower part of the catchment where the oyster industry is.
‘We would like to see tests done to see whether heavy metals are in the underground water to see if it’s an issue. The industry does 10,000 tests per year in NSW alone, mostly in the lower parts of the catchments, but we can’t afford to monitor every area where oysters are grown. If this [CSG activity] impacts on the industry, requiring us to increase monitoring, the cost of it shouldn’t have to be borne by farmers or consumers.’