Oyster farmers fear major stock losses after third flood event this year

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Caroline and Kel Henry had only just re-opened their oyster leases to harvest when they were forced to close again due to heavy rainfall.

The couple run an oyster farm at Wonboyn Lake, south of Eden, which has experienced three flooding events and approximately 473 millimetres of rain since March.

Around 250mm fell on their property overnight and they are concerned it could have caused significant stock losses.

“Three years of oysters could be gone with this amount of fresh water,” Ms Henry said.

“The oysters are already stressed from the last flood … and now with this added flood, I think some of them will not survive two long bouts of fresh water.

a road covered in brown water.a road covered in brown water.
Water Gums Creek on Wonboyn Road has been impacted by flooding.(

Supplied: Ray from Wonboyn

)

‘Another blow’

The pair had not yet had the chance to properly inspect their stock for damages or deaths since the last flooding event, and will not be able to do so until the current water levels subside.

“It’s going to take a long time for this estuary to get the salt back in for the oysters to feed and survive,” Ms Henry said.

“The leases are under water. The water is muddied … a lot of it we won’t be able to see until the flood recedes and it’s safe to navigate through the estuary.

a woman shucking an oystera woman shucking an oyster
Caroline Henry says the oysters are likely not to survive.(

ABC News: Claire Wheaton

)

Bushfire debris threatens

Wonboyn was impacted by the Border fire during the Black Summer bushfires in January 2020.

Ms Henry is also concerned about the build-up of bushfire debris which had been gathering on the banks of the Wonboyn River from earlier flooding.

She suspects a large portion of the pile has since made its way into the waterways, potentially causing further damage.

“It was this massive, big wall of debris 20 to 30 feet (6-9 metres) high,” she said.

“We are really worried where it’s gone and what damage it’s going to cause to our oyster leases.”