‘Surprisingly strong’ year for oyster firm

21 August / Otago Daily Times

As the oyster season comes to a close, a Southland company is celebrating “a surprisingly strong” year.

Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters general manager Graeme Wright said the good weather had allowed his fishery to reach its season quota 10 days ahead of the official end date.

It ran from March 1 to August 31, and yesterday the shuckers at the Bluff company opened their last catch.

The factory’s workers were flat out shucking about 14 oysters a minute.

“It was a good season. The weather was really kind to us. Obviously, we had a bit of interruption with Covid. We found the demand was very strong at the start of the season. Once Covid-19 got out of the way, it was really strong again.

“New Zealanders treated themselves to an oyster.”

The industry as a whole had an 8.5million oyster quota and his company had consent to harvest 65% of that, he said.

He thought his company would have struggled to make up the numbers rather than finish the season early.

“We had four weeks of down time and had to try to manage how to get boats out safely, but once things got up running again ... it went pretty good.

“Overall, we ticked all the boxes — it was a good season.”

Another positive was that Bonamia ostreae, the parasite that had a devastating effect on farmed oyster fields, was at a low level, he said.

“Almost undetectable.”

He believed the future of the industry looked promising as a lot of breeding had been undertaken.

“We know that is a slow grow, about six to eight years — but the future looks good.”

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