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Andrew Forrest’s ‘sustainable’ oyster company Harvest Road is dumping tonnes of ‘offal’ at a local rubbish tip

Cameron Newbold
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Nicola and Andrew Forrest at Oyster Harbour.
Nicola and Andrew Forrest at Oyster Harbour. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Billionaire Andrew Forrest’s multi-million dollar akoya oyster company — which claims to be an industry leader in sustainability — has dumped tonnes of “offal” at a local rubbish tip in the south of Western Australia.

The Nightly understands tonnes of oysters from Leeuwin Coast — the aquaculture arm of the rich-lister’s Harvest Road Group based in Albany, about five hours south of Perth — have been trucked and dumped at the tip.

Sources said the oysters produced in the venture had outweighed market demand and the product was being dumped as waste instead of being sold.

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The City of Albany confirmed Harvest Road had dumped tonnes of offal at its waste facility in December alone.

“The Hanrahan Road Waste Facility received four loads of offal in December 2023, totalling 12.62 tonnes, from Harvest Road,” a city spokesperson said in a statement.

“The Hanrahan Road Waste Facility is approved to receive offal as an allowable disposal.”

Oysters were dumped at the City of Albany's waste facility.
Oysters were dumped at the City of Albany's waste facility. Credit: Laurie Benson

When Mr Forrest and his then-wife Nicola launched Leeuwin Coast, they boasted it was a sustainable shellfish operation that they likened to regenerative farming as it “cleans, heals and enhances our oceans”.

In March 2021, high-profile chef Matt Moran visited the Albany operation and said he appreciated Leeuwin Coast’s sustainable farming aims.

Sustainability features heavily on the Leeuwin Coast website.

“Leeuwin Coast is focused on delivering best practice in sustainable shellfish aquaculture,” their website reads.

“Maintaining this focus on a commercial scale protects the marine environments we operate in, while also producing the best quality seafood.”

Nicola and Andrew Forrest at Oyster Harbour.
Nicola and Andrew Forrest at Oyster Harbour. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

A Harvest Road Group spokesperson said the operation still required disposal of waste.

“Aquaculture is an inherently sustainable method of farming but periodically the business creates by-product which requires disposal,” the spokesperson said.

“Waste classified as offal which was sent to a City of Albany waste facility consisted predominantly of heavy duty, marine specification ropes and equipment.

“Some marine organic matter growth including mussels, scallops, barnacles and other ocean fouling was included on the ropes.

“This disposal represents less than one per cent of the farm gear used in our operations.”

Harvest Road's shellfish team leader Willie De Klerk with some 12 month old Akoya oysters.
Picture: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser
Harvest Road's Akoya oysters. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

An Albany fisherman, who did not want to be named, said the dumping of oysters was “a real shame”.

“They are harvesting a large amount of oysters and not utilising the product,” he said.

“If they can’t get the price they want for it surely they could have used them in a marketing campaign and put Albany and Harvest Road on the map instead of trucking and dumping them.

“It’s food at the end of the day, fresh food and a good product.”

Leeuwin Coast oyster farm.
Leeuwin Coast oyster farm. Credit: Kellie Balaam/Albany Advertiser

The Forrests purchased the Emu Point rock oyster farm in Albany from Ocean Food International in early 2020.

In August 2020, Andrew and Nicola unveiled their shellfish brand Leeuwin Coast with the goal of pushing Albany to the top of the food chain of sustainably grown seafood.

The Leeuwin Coast business, listed as a $16 million operation when it was opened, was being driven by the new pocket-sized delicacy they hoped would become a signature WA export.

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