The world is your oyster
Oyster farming in the Southern Hemisphere
In Australia there is a booming industry in oyster farming going back to the 19th century; many of these oyster farms appear in river estuaries along the eastern and southern coast lines of Australia.
The principle is that the oysters thrive on what are essentially pollutants: excess chemicals and nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilisers) that are washed off the land upstream and washed down into these estuaries, where the oysters filter these nutrients out of the water as they live and grow! In some ways then, oyster farming is quite good for the environment.
The oysters are caged in baskets strung between wooden poles and rails. The challenge here is that these are very particular and challenging conditions for timber to perform in. Not only have you got the moisture and the warmth that would encourage rot and decay but there is actually a bigger problem than that: shipworms, that live in salt water. One of a number of animals known as ‘marine borers’, these shipworms can quite easily eat through and undermine the structure of the wood. A nice meal for a few marine borers could break the wooden structures, meaning several very nice (and valuable) pots of oysters floating off out to sea – not a great result.
So, to eliminate the problem, the wood needs to be given qualities and performance to resist rot and shipworms. Traditionally this was done with non-durable or chemically treated toxic wood species or products, until now.
The challenge therefore is to find a more sustainable, non-toxic and durable alternative for these timber posts and rails.
Accoya is created with a different principle: the actual wood itself is changed and enhanced by boosting the presence of molecule groups that are already a natural part of the wood. It becomes more stable, more durable…and highly resistant (or unappetising) to shipworms!
Partnering with Britton Timbers, a long-standing Accoya distributor in Australia, Accoya wood has been supplied for use for oyster seed trays and posts to Australian oyster farms since 2015 and is currently undergoing a testing programme.
Backed up with a 10-year warranty for this application, Accoya offers a unique solution to the challenge for oyster farms. It is sustainable, non-toxic and has an excellent reputation around the world for many applications, but this application is unique and could change the industry.
Unparalleled performance and sustainability credentials – where it counts
Testing of Accoya wood, undertaken by Australian Forestry Research Council, has seen posts of Accoya bedded in the estuary assessed over the course of two years between 2015 & 2017. There was a lot of aquatic life on the Accoya posts – showing its compatibility with the local flora and fauna – but when you clean it off and cut through the posts you can see the Accoya wood itself is pristine and clear of damage or decay with no evidence of shipworms boring themselves in the wood.
In the four years since then there is still good performance from the Accoya with no breakdown or durability issues at all. This test proves the combination of durability and non-toxicity is possible and effective, which over time can allow for the use of Accoya wood to replace the other wood species that have been used traditionally, making it the ideal material for oyster farms across Australia.
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