Thursday, 2 May 2013

More Oysters... Barges and Mud!

The oysters farmers' day is very much governed
by the daily tides...
It's morning and the tide is  coming in...
At Lemon Tree Passage.

It creeps in quietly and covers up all the mud...

The barges can be pulled in close
and loaded or unloaded.
Clive has already been out very early and picked up crates
of oysters for cleaning and sorting and grading and counting...
Into baskets with different size holes for different size oysters.
The crates continually grow barnacles.
These are chipped and banged off to keep
them clean and to allow the water to freely flow
to the oysters inside.

It's quite a job as you can see by these crates.
I learned that the barnacles grow when the crates are
in shallower water.

A clean basket... There are twenty
smallish oysters in here
ready to put back in the sea to grow bigger.
These Pacific oysters take
6-18 months to grow from hatchery
size to grunde which is more than 120ml.
Rock oysters take 3 years to achieve the same growth.

A bird's eye view!
When the oysters are big enough and before they are sold,
the over catch is cleaned off, they are counted into nets or baskets
and put on an 'Open Harvest Lease' for three weeks
to clean them up.
They look rough ugly and dirty but after three
weeks in rough seas they come in spotless
and don't need any cleaning or washing and meet
the fisheries harvest criteria.

It's high tide... the barge is in and Raewyn
is starting to load the baskets ready to take
back out to the lease.

I'm going for a ride... to have a look.
Clive is at the helm... giving the motor a bit of a tweek...

And off we go... It's not a dry ride!

This is a 'Restricted Harvesting Oyster Lease'
There are metal 'ropes' hung from posts dug into the sea bed.
The baskets have clips on them...
Designed by Clive who markets them...
They clip easily on and off the ropes.
There is the usual sea 'pollution' here...
So oysters from this lease that are ready for the market
need to be 'depurised' which is three weeks
in open rough seas or go through a
depurising tank with ultra violet light.

Here it's easy to see the baskets hanging on the ropes.
These oysters are in the last stages of fattening.
They are hung so that they are out of the water at low tide.
This gets the oysters used to being out of the water
and ready for the market where they last up to five days
out of water and stay alive and fresh.

A Pelican keeps watch...
Any to eat?

This is their neighbour Peter...
He is lifting crates, loading them on his barge...

And taking them back to his shed.
They are ready for market and will be sold to the local
fisheries or privately sourced markets.
There is a huge demand for oysters in Australia
so there is a ready market for all shapes and sizes.

When we get back the tide has gone out again...
So it's a wade through the mud to get to shore.

It's thick and squelchy

But no other way...

Thank goodness for big gumboots.

And it's back to more oysters
which Raewyn is an expert at opening...

And a pot full for dinner.

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