Over and out for oyster season

Graeme Wright
Graeme Wright
A Southland oyster company is turning away customers after it reached its quota for the season — more than a month before it officially ends.

Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters general manager Graeme Wright said there were some hiccups with the weather through the season.

However, an outstanding harvest in March and great customer demand for the delicacies had allowed his fishery to reach its season’s quota more than 30 days before the official end date.

The season ran from March 1-August 31, but last Monday the shuckers at the Bluff company opened their last catch.

"The Ministry [of Primary Industries] set a quota for the whole industry of about 15million oysters. But we [the oyster industry] chose to not catch all those this year, as we having being doing in the recent times.

"We are taking a very conservative approach," Wright said.

In March, MPI revealed three wild oysters were found to be infected with Bonamia ostreae in a small area near Stewart Island, which raised concerns for the industry.

Mr Wright said that did not affect the numbers for this season.

The industry chose to catch only 7.5million of the MPI quota, to ensure the sustainable management of the Bluff oyster fishery.

"We know that there are a huge amount of juvenile oysters out there ... so we need to give them a bit of time to grow. They are quite slow and need a bit of time to grow."

The early end of the season was great for the companies, but could be disappointing for some customers, he said.

"It is all gone. There are very sad customers. Every day I’m turning them away and,just this morning, I reckon we had at least 40 calls.

"It is nice to have the job done earlier."

Fowlers Oysters manager Terina Stockwell also celebrated the good season.

As her shop relied on international customers, she had been worried about her business — but surprisingly she ended the season last week.

"It was a good season, actually. The weather played its part, which is always a good sign. Our shop was always consistent through the season.

"In the beginning of the season we were a bit worried but Kiwis picked up the slack of the international customers and it was a really good season in the end."

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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