Oysters $26 and popular

Aaron Cooper
Aaron Cooper
Bluff Oyster lovers in Dunedin are enjoying their first taste of the slippery delicacy for the season, despite rough weather limiting the first weekend's catch.

Harbour Fish and Best Cafe were among Dunedin businesses watching their oysters fly off the shelves over the weekend, following the start of the 2014 season on Saturday morning.

Harbour Fish manager Aaron Cooper, of Dunedin, drove south early on Saturday to collect his first batch of 500 dozen oysters, and had them back in Dunedin and on the shop's shelves by 2pm. The oysters, selling for $26 a dozen, were in hot demand all weekend, he said.

''The weather will clear probably tomorrow or the next day, so they'll get another swag.

''It's always a bit rough at the start of the season.''

Best Cafe owner Marc Yeoman received his first shipment of about 400 dozen oysters about 2.30pm on Saturday.

Sales began slowly but picked up yesterday, helped by passengers from the visiting cruise ship Pacific Pearl, he said.

''We sold quite a few [yesterday] with all the people off the boats.''

Bluff Oyster Management Company spokesman Graeme Wright, of Barnes Oysters, said the 11-strong fishing fleet had managed to head out despite ''marginal'' conditions on Saturday, but stayed in port yesterday.

''We certainly had a lot of people coming from Queenstown, and even a couple from Dunedin came down to get some.''

The weather was expected to improve from today, meaning the limited supply of oysters making it out of Southland so far would improve in the coming days, he said.

''If the boats get out [today] we'll have a fair lump coming to different outlets in Dunedin on Tuesday.''

The quality appeared to be good so far, despite the conditions, and a good season was expected.

The legal catch limit for the season, which ran to August 31, was 14.95 million oysters, but the actual catch limit would be lower, he said.

It would be confirmed in six to eight weeks, once skippers had an idea of the fields and test results for the oyster parasite bonamia were in, he said.


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