First day of Bluff oyster season offers promise of better haul than 2022

02 March / Stuff

News from the depths of Foveaux Strait is good for oyster lovers.

Time will tell the full story, but catches on the first morning of the season got the thumbs up from boat captains.

Ricky Ryan and his crew on the Daphne Kay were one of 10 oyster boats out on the Strait early on Wednesday morning.

“It was pretty good actually. It was nice calm weather and there were good numbers,’’ he said.

“They’re [the oysters] in really good nick, everyone was really surprised. It’s big thumbs up compared to last year.’’

Last season the crew had rejected 80-90% of their catch but on Wednesday that was down to about 40%, he said.

Last month, industry experts said they feared this season could produce poor quality oysters for the second year running because the molluscs tended not to be as big during drought years.

The opening day was not without drama on the high seas. A boat broke down, but the problem was quickly fixed and it was able to keep on dredging.

“That’s just nature and the way things go,’’ Ryan said.

The catch from the Daphne Kay was heading to Barnes Oysters for processing, where they will be opened tomorrow morning, manager Graeme Wright said.

“Southlanders will get first crack at them,’’ he said.

“We’ll put them out through our local retailers and fish and chip shops, and then we’ll have to send some up north or people will beat me up.”

The boats bought in about 4000 dozen oysters on Wednesday and Wright concurred with initial reports that they were looking good.

“The boys on the boats seemed to be pretty happy with them and the indications are that last year was just one of those years, with not enough food around to fatten them up,’’ Wright said.

“It’s good to get the season off to a positive start.’’

A dozen first grade oysters would retail for $30, and a pottle of two dozen second grade oysters would be $40, he said.

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