The South Australian oyster industry was established in the late 1980s and is the second largest most valuable sector in terms of farm-gate sales value in South Australia.
Oyster are typically sold during March to December. Spawnless oysters and better management has led to year round sales. Most work is available on farms between February to May/June and 60% of oyster growth happens during those three months. This is when oyster farms put on additional workers.
There are two types of farms: farms that take spat and keep them/ grow-out to saleable size, and those who take on-grown oysters to fattening size and then sell them.
Farms range in size from two core staff to 17 core staff dependent on type and size of farm.
Types of jobs
Operations manager, assistant operations manager, sales managers, purchasing managers, office manager, HR manager (contract), leading hands, general hands – casual workers, including backpackers. Maintenance crew (maybe leading hands) to build racks and maintain equipment, as required.
As outlined above casual work is available between February and June, whilst core staff may be required year around.
Typical wage range
The industry is governed by an award (via Fairwork Australia) – aquaculture attendant certificate.
- level 1 (less than 4 months experience): $20.30 per hour
- level 2: $20.60 per hour
- level 3: (requires coxswains) $22.53 per hour
- level 4: (acting in charge) $23.65 per hour
Can range from $25 – $30 per hour dependent on skills, experience and role.
Can be salaried roles as well, which may include fuel, cars, etc.
Generally 38 hour week. Start at 8am and finish at 5pm. May be dependent on weather and tides.
Qualifications and experience desirable/essential
- Coxswains and forklift for leading hands, operations and assistant operations managers.
- Level 4 aquaculture attendant usually includes first aid and fire fighting certificate.
- Management experience/qualifications in managing people desirable for higher level jobs.
Best part of the job
The day goes quickly because there is variety, half day in water, half day on land. Get to enjoy the best of nature: dolphins swimming past, seals, can be adventurous weatherwise. Work in a natural, scenic environment. You are kep very busy with tasks. Home every night with family, but still get to enjoy nature.
Very in tune with nature and the cycles of the marine environment.