First Bluff oysters expected today

02 March / Jono Edwards - Otago Daily Times

Bluff oysters are likely to make their first Otago appearance today, as an uncertain season begins for the Southland delicacy.

Vessels began dredging for the prized seafood yesterday.

The first oysters arrived in Bluff just before noon.

Dunedin’s Harbour Fish and Best Cafe, usually two of the first outlets in the city to get their hands on the shellfish, both said they would stock them today.

Barnes Oysters general manager Graeme Wright said densities remained relatively low, as they did in previous years.

While the industry was allowed to take 15 million oysters from the Foveaux Strait fishery throughout the season, it would start with 10million, as it did last year, to ensure sustainability.

Mr Wright’s shop in Invercargill would sell them for $25 a dozen, but he imagined they could be slightly pricier elsewhere.

The wild oyster fishery was lucky it so far had avoided Bonamia ostreae, which caused the closure of Stewart Island oyster farms last year, he said.

This would also affect the overall supply, he said.

“To date, we’ve dodged a bullet. The ministry has done a very good job of monitoring.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries this week announced the last round of testing in February showed no positives for the disease.

There was a “bit of spat”, meaning larvae which have attached to a surface, this year and last year in the fishery, he said.

“We should start to see things grow in a few years.”

Mr Wright would stock Invercargill first today, before supplying distributors further north this afternoon.

In Queenstown, restaurants Pier 19 and Botswana Butchery hoped to have their first delivery of oysters today.

Junction Fish Supply in Oamaru said it was not expecting its first shipment until next week.

The season lasts until August 31, or earlier, if the quota is reached.

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