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Great expectations for the 2024 Bluff oyster season

06 March / Stuff

It’s that time of year again - the much-awaited opening of the 2024 Bluff oyster season is here, and hopes are high that the quality will be much improved from last year.

As their first six boats departed for the Foveaux Straight on Friday, Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters manager Graeme Wright shared his optimism for a stellar season ahead. The southern delicacies officially went on sale at their Invercargill Business over the weekend.

“It was a disappointing season last year, with a lot more second-grade oysters than what we normally would have,” Wright said.

“That’s wild fishery for you. You’ve got to roll with the environmental punches, and there’s been some crazy environmental events happening.”

“But we’re optimistic that this year there will be an improvement – which also coincides with an El ‘Nino weather cycle. Oysters are generally of better quality in such cycles,” he added.

Other Bluffies are sharing the same quiet optimism about the 2024 season.

Willie Calder, skipper of oyster boat Argosy, said judging by his first day’s take, this year’s oysters surpassed those of 2023.

“There’s definitely an improvement. The oyster inside the shell is much plumper, but we’ve noticed the numbers were down,” Calder remarked.

Given that the season has only just kicked off, it would be too early to say whether this trend would continue.

“The 2023 season was disappointing, with many oysters appearing to have starved to death in the ocean,” he continued.

But Wright believes we shouldn’t give up hope just yet.

“Demand for our Bluff oysters remains strong. And with our nine boats in the fleet and a total quota of 7.5 million oysters for the 2024 season set to pass through the doors, there’s plenty to be excited about,” he said.

Whether you’re a seasoned seafood enthusiast or a newcomer eager to embark on a culinary adventure, the 2024 Bluff oyster season could be a winner.

The oyster season officially kicked off on March 1 and will run until August 31.

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