Oyster Lease; 1955; 64.84


Port Macquarie Museum


Oyster Lease

About this object

This certified copy of the original paper document showing the transfer of the Lease for Oyster Farm 54.170 on the Hastings River, from Henry James Netherclift to Selby Edmunds, is dated 7 December 1955. It records that the transfer was under Section 62 of the Fisheries and Oyster Farms Act, 1936-1949 and that the term of the Lease was for 15 years from 1 September 1954. Scale diagrams are included on the Lease document showing the dimensions of the Oyster Farm No. 54.170, and its location on the north western side of Herbert’s Island in Limeburners Creek, a tributary of the Hastings River.

Mr Selby was born in Port Macquarie in 1912 and worked as an oyster farmer along the Hastings River and in Limeburners Creek for over 60 years, owning many leases during this period. Selby’s father, Henry, was also an oysterman and a contemporary of John Suart Dick who was the first successful oyster farmer on the Hastings. John Dick obtained his initial lease near Kooloonburg Creek in 1888 and his sons, Ernest, John, Charles and Thomas made major contributions to the oyster industry over many decades by introducing better methods of cultivation and production.

The cultivation of oysters is far from a recent innovation. Aborigines in the Hastings area feasted on oysters for many hundreds of years and numerous shell middens were observed along the waterways when the first Europeans settled here in the early 1800s.

With European settlement, the demand for oysters grew quickly. The use of oyster shell as a source of lime in cement production resulted in oyster stocks in some parts of NSW, including the Hastings area, becoming almost depleted. The NSW Fisheries Act was introduced in 1902 and from then onwards applications for leases had to be submitted to, and registered by the Department of Fisheries, and Fishing Inspectors were introduced to check on the size and location of leases in order to prevent over-fishing and the depletion of natural oyster beds.

The oyster industry in the Hastings River system represents one of the oldest surviving primary industries in the area. Currently there are 28 registered growers on the River, and approximately 6.6 million oysters are harvested for consumption each year, while more than 40 million juvenile seed oysters are produced and sold to other oyster farmers for growing. The Hastings River is the largest seed producing estuary in New South Wales, and the fifth largest producer of oysters for human consumption in NSW.

This Oyster Farm transfer certificate is representative of certificates issued for the transfer of oyster leases under Section 62 of the Fisheries and Oyster Farms Act 1936-1949. It confirms the involvement of the Department of Fisheries in registering Oyster Farms, in documenting their dimensions and locations, and in recording the ownership of the leases. It also confirms that one of the three leases around Herberts Island in Limeburners Creek was owned by a long time Port Macquarie resident, Mr Selby Edwards, who farmed oysters in the Hastings River for more than 60 years.

Margaret Blight
8 September 2014

Date Made


Medium and Materials

Paper, ink


360mmL, 230mmW

Credit Line

Donor: Mrs D Edmunds

Object Type

Legal documents

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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