1989 through to 2020

The Coffin Bay Shellfish Story

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The early years Carly, Pam, Todd, Chad & Glyn working as a family 

In 1989 Glyn and Pam Owen were operating a small building business in Port Lincoln and a long time friend, Gary Olds approached them about diversifying into oyster farming in Coffin Bay and they apply for an aquaculture lease in Mt Dutton Bay (in the Coffin bay Waterways).Due to financial restraints the lease was developed at weekends with the help of their 3 children.

After 3 years the Mt Dutton Bay lease doesn’t prove to be very lucrative due to only producing fat oysters for 3 months of the year. With 4 other oyster farmers they applied for a research and development lease in Port Douglas Bay, which is an outer bay in the Coffin Bay Waterways. This area was always thought to be too rough weather for oyster farming. Within 2 months it proved to be viable in both fattening and structurally. The 5 farmers applied to PIRSA for a 10 Ha lease each.

However 6 years was spent in court, fighting environmentalists and other oyster farmers. Eventually a deal was brokered and the leases were granted.

In 2000 the 5 oyster farmers bought 500 acres of Horse Peninsula and an Aquaculture Zone was created. This gave the farmers access to both Mt Dutton Bay and Port Douglas Bay. Over the next 2 years individual sheds with connecting roads, power, water and communal chiller rooms were built.

The business had 10 extremely good years of sales which resulted in the expansion of sheds and new equipment being purchased.

Glyn and Pam Owen started farming using the rack and rail system with 2 pillow baskets on wooden sticks which rested on the racks and secured with rubber rings.

In 2010 the long line system was adopted which uses 4 wires, 100m in length, strung from posts with several clips at different heights. The oyster bags hang on clips from the wires which can be changed in height according to tide, weather and management requirements. This allows the waves to rumble the oysters giving a clean and even shape.

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2020 - Chad & Todd Owen

In 2014 Glyn and Pam invoked succession and Coffin Bay Shellfish was taken over by Chad & Todd Owen and Todd is appointed farm manager with Glyn & Pam involved with administration and maintenance.

In 2016 POMS (Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome) was discovered in Tasmania and PIRSA shuts the SA borders for spat importation. Industry continues with farming and sales using stock already on farm. Hatcheries are setup in South Australia but it takes 2-3 years to get reliable spat production available to SA growers.

2019 there is  limited sales as growers play catch up.

2020 Coronavirus  pandemic spreads to Australia and eastern seaboard markets are shut down. This means our wholesalers reduce their buying. 

Todd, Pagan, Chad, Sarah, Glyn and Pam discussed our options as a family and made the decision to create a website integrated with an online oyster shop - selling direct to the public. Family, friends and acquaintances were contacted around Australia and we asked them to venture into unknown waters with us all. 

August 2020 we have 19 distribution points set up around Australia. The response and support from you, our customers reading this has been overwhelming and we are so very proud of the business and friendships we have created in this short time. We aim to send our delicious Coffin Bay oysters from our homes to your homes long into the future.