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Environments of EmpireNetworks and Agents of Ecological Change$
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Ulrike Kirchberger and Brett M. Bennett

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469655932

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469655932.001.0001

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Adapting to Change in Australian Estuaries

Adapting to Change in Australian Estuaries

Oysters in the Techno-Fix Cycles of Colonial Capitalism

(p.176) Adapting to Change in Australian Estuaries
Environments of Empire

Jodi Frawley

University of North Carolina Press

In the 1880s, Eastern Australian estuaries supported thriving oyster industries. They supplied lime for building early in Australia’s development, but as cities and towns grew, it was the briny salty taste for this delicacy that saw the growth of the sector. When the oyster beds at the east coast of Australia became depleted, fishermen looked to New Zealand, where the same Oyster species grew, to supply cultivation stock for the Australian market. It was presumed that transfers would have the same impact as those already being moved within the Australian ecological networks. That is: it would present no problem at all. What was overlooked in this intercolonial exchange was the presence of the mudworm in the New Zealand estuaries. Mudworm co-habitats with oysters without killing them, but impedes the healthy development of the oysters making them inedible. This chapter places the mudworm at the center of a new narrative in the ecological networks of oysters. Rather than articulating the mudworm as a damaging invasive species, it argues that the mudworm was an agent of change that caused the fishermen to adjust their methods of oyster cultivation.

Keywords:   oyster cultivation, Eastern Australian estuaries, New Zealand, Mudworm, Polydora websteri, Jodi Frawley

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