BY KAYNE STEPHENS

The price of oysters could soon soar, with Hunter oyster farmers concerned about the impact of recent rain and flooding.

The industry has faced restaurant closures, bushfires, and floods. 

A statewide shortage is being forecast after a reported $17 million in lost stock and equipment damage after recent floods.

Many farmers are yet to fully assess the damage.

Now farmers are concerned an inundation of freshwater rainfall will affect how oysters grow and mature.

It takes up to three years for oysters to be ready for sale.

Karuah oyster farmer Dean Cole says prices may increase in that time.

“It basically goes on supply and demand. I definitely think there will be an increase over the next couple of year, or maybe even sooner,” he said.

Mr Cole says because the oysters take so long to mature ready for sale, there isn’t yet a clear picture of supply.

“Here locally, we still have our oysters for sale but it won’t show its true effects for a couple of years based on who’s lost what and if we can actually get stock to replace the one’s we’ve lost,” he said.

The biggest concern for Hunter farmers is the inundation of fresh water. 

Oysters grow in salt water, a process which can be disturbed by severe rainfall. Dean Cole said juvenile oysters are far less resilient to the elements.

“A lot of them have died for different people,” he said.

“A lot of them have washed out to sea in other estuaries, in Karuah here they’re dying from the freshwater but up north it’s more so the floodwater taking all the oysters and infrastructure with it,” Mr Cole said.

A shortage could affect the availability of fresh local oysters in restaurants and shops in the state, leading to more stock being transported from other regions and adding to cost.