The world is our oyster… despite another tough season

14 September / Stuff / Otago Daily Times

Oyster enthusiasts around the country are feeling a sense of loss as this year’s season officially ended on August 31.

While the catch rate was similar to last season, the oysters were smaller in size this year.

Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters General Manager Graeme Wright said even though the past season had not been particularly good – there was still plenty to be optimistic about.

“Demand for our Bluff oysters was relatively strong – just that we had a lot more second-grade oysters than what we normally would,” Wright said.

“Overall, it wasn’t a bad season.”

The Bluff oyster season officially kicked off on March 1. The market for the oysters had been strong – especially the local market, with Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters meeting its industry quota of 7.5 million oysters passing through the doors.

Overall, the quality was slightly better than the 2022 season but Wright puts this down to seasons and cycles.

“It’s just mother nature. We don’t understand what the drivers are…and wild fishery has cycles.”

“We’ve had lots and lots of little baby oysters which have been born in the last two or three years, whereas before that we’ve had probably six or eight years where we’ve had very little or no recruitment. It’s simply the way the cycles of the industry are.”

The past two seasons of poor-quality oysters coincided with La Nina weather patterns, but an El Nino weather cycle was coming, and the oysters were generally better quality in such cycles.

“That’s another season ticked over. We’ve had a few bumps in the season, but historically that just seems to happen,” Wright said.

The fishery would continue to be monitored so stakeholders could try to understand what drove the changes, he added.

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