A world of oysters: protecting their future

SRAP, in collaboration with the Marine Studies Institute and the Sydney Environment Institute organised on 20 October 2021 a multidisciplinary event to learn everything about oysters. 88 online participants had the opportunity to learn and discuss the vital role of oysters within Australia’s marine biodiversity and culinary culture. A panel made up of an oyster farmer, a chef and two oyster researchers, was chaired by our SRAP member Ana Vila-Concejo.

At the event we learnt about why oyster reef restoration is needed, how oysters grow and what are the most important factors for oyster farming, oyster knowledge inherent from First Nations People, what customers look for when consuming oysters. The panellists answered many question from the audience before moving into the online oyster tasting.

Our SRAP member Ana Rubio, shellfish researcher who has worked with the oyster industry in Australia for the last 15 years, coordinated an online oyster tasting with Ewan McAsh, oyster grower from the Clyde River and Rubén López Mesa, Spanish chef from Orange and Founder of Eat Spanish. Participants were asked to purchase oysters prior to the event so they could join the conversation while tasting their favourite oysters. During the online oyster tasting event we discussed provenance and seasonality for the oyster types you can purchase in NSW. Ewan also showed us how to best shuck an oyster!

Thanks to all the participants. If you missed the event or are interested in listening to it again here we include the recording:


Here we include some background of the panellists that participated in this event:

Mitchell Gibbs, a Dunghutti man from Kempsey near Port Macquarie, NSW, has recently completed his PhD at the University of Sydney School of Life and Environment Science on the transgenerational effect of climate change on oyster larvae. His research focuses on oysters – especially oyster and oyster habitats on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales. Mitchell has a particular interest in traditional Aboriginal oyster farming practices – practices that protected and enhanced oyster habitats and promoted sustainable harvesting.

Ana Bugnot is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Sydney and Project Manager for the Sydney Harbour Research Program at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. In collaboration with industry and environmental managers, she is investigating the use of oysters in developing nature-based solutions to remediate excess nutrients.

Rubén López Mesa is a Spanish chef living in Orange NSW. He is a founder of Eat Spanish, the first Spanish non-profit gastronomic association in Australia. He owns the catering business A Table of 10. He is passionate about using local products and regional influences in his cooking and shining a light on Spanish culture and cuisine.

Ewan McAsh is a marine scientist, and oyster farm industry trailblazer. He is a Nuffield Farming Scholar (2012) and a NSW farmer of the year finalist (2018). Ewan is the founder of Signature Oysters (2015) and SmartOysters (2018), and OysterLife Share Farm (2019). Over the past 16 years Ewan has expanded his family farm to include a nationally recognised marketing brand and a global software company.


Ana Rubio Zuazo

About Ana Rubio Zuazo

I have 15 years of operational and management experience in Coastal NRM with an emphasis on marine aquaculture. My research revolves around marine ecology and aquaculture, in particular in relation to the cultivation of oysters. Most of my research focuses on the Sydney Rock Oyster and the Pacific Oysters. A number of projects that I am currently involved in are included in this industry website: http://www.southcoastoysterindustry.com.au/ • Coastal Natural Resource Management projects • Monitoring and response to Harmful Algal Blooms • Designing, conducting, statistical analysis and reporting of ecological and water quality data • Design, development and implementation of environmental and aquaculture-based research projects: design of state-wide oyster monitoring programs, disease investigations; production • Aquaculture advisor • Twenty years of experience in project management of aquatic monitoring programs • Calibration, set-up and deployment of water quality instrumentation • Extensive experience in field work (remote sites, off-boat sampling, benthic sampling, water quality monitoring, SCUBA assessments) • GIS, Modelling, reporting, web-portal design, education packages