Oyster opener claims eighth title28 May
Early season Bluff oyster prices driven by “insatiable” demand06 March
Bluff oysters in short supply after ‘chaos’03 March
First Bluff oysters expected today02 March
First oysters of the season arrive in Bluff01 March
Oysters the order of the day as connoisseurs flock from afar22 May
The battle for the Bluff oyster gets under way for the 2017 season01 March
Big crowds and tight squeezes at the 2016 Bluff Oyster and Food Festival21 May
Bluff oysters in the blood of many Southlanders05 March
Transport World to open pop up oyster bar for start of oyster season01 March
Oyster-lovers get prepared26 February
Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters to feature in NZ Post TV ad19 August
Bluff oyster quota achieved after stormy season10 August
Bluff oyster fleet on home stretch02 July
Bluff Oyster Fest 2015 - Results26 May
Oyster Fest a huge success25 May
Oyster openers prepare to compete21 May
Oyster season on track despite poor weather01 May
VIDEO: Surveying the fishery19 March
Changing times05 March
VIDEO: ONE NEWS - Opening of Bluff Oyster Season01 March
VIDEO: 3 News - Oyster lovers rejoice as season begins01 March
Oyster lovers get their orders in27 February
New look for Barnes Wild Bluff Oysters19 February
19 March / NIWA
The science of providing the information that helps manage the Bluff oyster fishery has been part of NIWA’s research work since 2000. This research programme is funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Bluff Oyster Management Company and Seafood Innovations LTD. The research is undertaken collaboratively and includes wide ranging programmes such as improving fishing technology and methods, understanding the oyster fishery, the ecosystem from which it is fished and the key drivers of oyster production. Crucial to the research is keeping tabs on the health of the fishery through a survey carried out before each season. The survey estimates the size of the oyster population and levels of bonamia – a disease that kills oysters, though it’s harmless to humans.
These surveys are undertaken in February and, together with a spat monitoring programme,provide up-to-date information on the status of the fishery and its likely future status to inform harvest limits for the coming season. These limits are reviewed in-season based on the oyster skippers’ information from the first few weeks of fishing and the final results of the pre-season survey.
NIWA coastal fisheries scientist Keith Michael leads research on the fishery and says bonamia has devastated wild fisheries all over the world. It’s important work that affects not only the price and availability of Bluff oysters, but the livelihood of the fishing families and the businesses that support the industry.
Keith says the annual survey provides vital information for management. “Although little can be done to change the outcomes for the fishery, our science provides a ‘weather forecast’ that allows the oyster industry to prepare for a good or not-so-good seasons, and the ability to explain changes in the fishery with evidence from this research, he says.
Research is undertaken as part of a strategic research plan developed with the Bluff Oyster Management Company, the Ministry for Primary Industries, customary and recreational fishers to provide the key information required to better manage the fishery and fishing.
Keith says that the oyster population size has declined from 2014, mainly as a result of disease. “Bonamia killed 200 million legal-sized oysters in early 2014 while the oyster fishery harvested 13 million oysters,” he says. “Early indications for the 2015 season suggest fisher catch rates will be similar to the 2014 season.”
Graeme Wright, a spokesman for the Bluff Oyster Management Company, says: “Based on the science information we have from NIWA, the 2015 oyster season will start with a more conservative catch limit than 2014 and we will review the catch limit in-season.”
The Bluff Oyster Management Company represents all the fishery stakeholders, and Graeme Wright says the cooperative nature of the industry is its strong point.
“There has been a real emphasis in the past 20 years to involve the fishermen who work these beds plus everybody involved – customary and recreational groups, commercial fishermen and scientific researchers – and I think it’s at a stage where
everybody believes we’re managing the fishery, in the interests of everybody, for the future,” Graeme says.
“The key to the future of the fishery is information and the quality of information that NIWA gives us offers the fishery some certainty and security going into the future.”