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03 March / NZ Herald - The Country
It’s been a bumpy opening for the new Bluff oyster season. The wild oyster season runs from March 1 to August with the first boats harvesting in Foveaux Strait on Tuesday.
Invercargill-based Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters manager Graeme Wright said harvesters were battling large tides… Covid-related delays with couriers and struggling restaurants were also making them cautious about how the season will go.
Courier companies have warned customers of possible delays as they cope with staff off work with Covid-19.
“Couriering product around is difficult. Couriers are under pressure and you need to be very careful with a chilled perishable product,” Wright said.
“They’re funny little creatures and all the stars have to align for things to work for them. But certainly, if we stay disease-free and bonamia doesn’t bite us on the bum, in two or three years oysters will be extremely plentiful I would imagine.”
It takes up to nine years for wild oysters to reach harvestable size.
Wright said in the meantime harvesters will continue to take about half their allowed catch.
The government quota is set at 14.95 million, but Wright expected the industry to perform similarly to last year where it harvested about half that number because that was sustainable.