Hopes for good oyster season

Oysterman John Edminstin prepares his fishing boat Polaris for the beginning of oyster season...
Oysterman John Edminstin prepares his fishing boat Polaris for the beginning of oyster season today. PHOTO: LUISA GIRAO
An oysterman who has been harvesting the delicacy for 43 years has seen many changes in the industry.

However, Bluff man John Edminstin said one thing had not changed — the expectation of a good catch when the season started.

Boats were set to hit Foveaux Strait today for the beginning of the oyster season.

Mr Edminstin was preparing his boat Polaris, on Thursday so he would be ready to dredge the first batch early this morning.

"I reckon that it will be a similar season to last year," he said.

"But the reality is that any skipper wants a better season than the year before. There is no change there."

He planned to get up at 3.30am today so he and his team of five could leave South Port at 4.30am for the first catch.

Some of the other boats would return to shore later in the morning to enable supplies to be sent off to eager customers around the country.

However, Mr Edminstin wanted to return only when he had four bins full of oysters.

"Each bin has about 360 dozen. So hopefully we can catch that on our first day."

He expects a good season as first tests at the wild oyster fishery showed no signs of the Bonamia ostreae parasite.

Last year, even with the Covid-19 outbreak, Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters reached its season quota 10 days ahead of the official end date.

Barnes’ general manager Graeme Wright said the total allowable commercial catch for Foveaux Strait was set at 14.95million oysters.

"As a conservative approach over recent years, the industry have been what they call shelving ... a process where as an industry we agree to catch a lesser limit."

They would start the quota at 7.5 million oysters and then after a month, once full science results were back, they would revise the harvest limit.

Initial testing showed positive signs, he said.

There did not appear to be any visual signs of bonamia and evidence of lots of juvenile oysters.

Kings Fish Market general manager Greg King said they would start selling the word-famous oysters tomorrow..

He said he sold "thousands of dozens" every season in his store.

"Everyone is very excited for the opening day. Fingers crossed the weather is good so we can gave a good catch," he said

The season ends on August 31.



Although I believe bottom trawling should be banned in NZ and international waters, I do applaud the efforts to maintain at least sustainable stock levels of the oyster beds. The Firth of Forth in Scotland was once home to vast beds of oysters. None remains. Similarly, the Firth of Clyde once abounded with fish, shellfish, whales and porpoises. Today its seabed is barren and its fish stocks have disappeared. It is vital we protect NZ's remaining ecosystems.



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