Par start to oyster season

Torea skipper Trevor Young loads the first oysters for the 2024 season on to the dock. PHOTO:...
Torea skipper Trevor Young loads the first oysters for the 2024 season on to the dock. PHOTO: TONI MCDONALD
Bluff's oyster boats cast off into calm seas and warm winds to start the season yesterday, but the quality of this year’s oyster harvest has yet to be determined.

Barnes Oysters Torea skipper Trevor Young said the mild conditions made the first day of the 2024 oyster season on Foveaux Strait a pleasant one.

He was also happy with his first day’s return after he and his crew cast off at 4am yesterday, but it was too soon to comment on the the quality of this year’s oysters.

Barnes Oyster’s manager Graham Wright said he would expect the the region’s 10 oyster boats to have a quiet start to the season while they eased into the season’s routine by checking and tweaking the boat’s rigging.

"They are quite complicated to set up — all the wiring and rigging. It takes a day or two to set up that stuff and get it running properly."

He said the company’s six skippers were happy with their day’s haul.

"Most were ready to go home to bed."

"Overall, the catch is what we would expect for the first day," and on par with previous seasons.

Barnes Oysters inducted seasonal staff yesterday for its first day of oyster-opening today.

During the past two to three years the quality of oysters had not been good, but he was hopeful they would improve this year.

"Quality is the big thing, and we won’t know that until we get them opened.

"The weather’s been good. But you need a few days to have a look around because things do change dramatically from year to year. It will take a week before we know how things are going to go.

He had not heard any reports of the bonamia bug affecting Foveaux Strait oysters.

The company had been assisting Niwa with preseason oyster bed sampling and expected results in about two months.

Catches were always weather-dependent. The nature of the industry was to "take things day by day", he said.

The industry was an incredibly cyclic one, where one year there could be high oyster mortality, or not a lot of growth, followed by high reproduction.

"We get years where we don’t have a lot of reproduction, then get years where there’s huge amounts of it."

The industry did not invest a lot in investigating growth-drivers - "because at the end of the day you can’t change it".

But it did respect sustainability.

"It’s the quirks of wild fishing - it’s what makes it cool," Mr Wright said.