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06 March / RNZ
Bluff oyster lovers are going wild for their favourite treat, with the first harvest landing this week.
The Bluff oyster season runs from 1 March to 31 August, and the first boats were out harvesting in Foveaux Strait on Wednesday.
Invercargill-based Barnes Oysters manager Graeme Wright said the quality of oysters caught so far looked promising, but only time would tell how the season would play out.
He said environmental conditions affected the quality of oysters, and last year’s harvest was hit hard.
“It’s a wild fishery and we do have some ups and downs. The quality is what it is, there’s nothing we can do to change that, it’s just environmental factors that we don’t fully understand. We just have to manage with what Mother Nature gives us.
“This year from what we’ve seen so far, we definitely think the oysters are looking better in quality,” he said.
Wright said about 3500 dozen oysters had been harvested for Barnes Oysters so far, and the shellfish were already in high demand right across the country.
“Locally it’s been huge - we’ve got a retail shop on the side of our factory and it’s been mowed down [on Thursday] - but we’ve had lots of calls right around the nation. Even some of our friends that we deal with in Napier and Gisborne are really keen to get their hands on some once we can get some sent up there,” he said.
Wright said at this stage the industry was proposing to harvest 7.5 million oysters in this year’s season.
Bluff’s annual Oyster and Food Festival, set to be held in May 2023, has been cancelled after the building adjoining the event site was declared dangerous.
The organisers were hopeful the event could return in 2024.