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20 August / Che Baker / Stuff
The 2022 Bluff oyster season will be remembered for difficult weather, staff sickness and several other challenges because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters manager Graeme Wright said its final catch of the season was being processed on Friday morning.
“It’s been a different season ... The quality [of the oysters] hasn’t been great this year,” Wright said.
“It’s just mother nature. We don’t understand what the drivers are ... It’s a cycle thing. Some years you have good ones.”
Covid-19 also halted processing at the business for about 10 days earlier in the season, with staff becoming sick with the illness, and then staff on the boats being affected.
Couriering constraints because of Omicron was also a problem.
Despite the issues, the market for the oysters had been strong – especially the local market, Wright said.
“It never ceases to amaze me the demand for the product.”
In total, 7.5 million oysters could be taken this year, with Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters usually processing 65% of the quote, or 4.8m.
Looking to next year, Wright said the key thing for the future was to make sure the oyster parasite Bonamia ostreae doesn’t make its way into wild oysters.
However, on a positive note there were a lot of juvenile oysters in the Foveaux Strait “The future looks promising”.
The Bluff oyster season, which opened on March 1, will officially finish on August 31.