Bluff oyster season winding down

23:17, Jul 16 2014
 Barnes Oyster opener Keith Dawson,  77
GOT THE GIFT: Barnes Oyster opener Keith Dawson, 77, second from left, has been opening 5000 oysters a day for the past 50 oyster seasons.

Oyster lovers are being told to get in quick as an early season wind-down begins. 

Bluff Oyster Management Company spokesman and Barnes Oysters manager Graeme Wright  said most oyster companies had already reached their quotas after a successful season. 

A few companies remain dredging and would continue to slowly wind back during the next four weeks.

This season's self-imposed quota remained the same as last season, at 13.2 million. Quotas had increased in recent years as the industry made a strong recovery after the  2001 and 2002 seasons when the parasite bonamia killed 95 per cent of the oyster population, Wright said. The reasonably low amount of oysters killed by the parasite this season did not affect the market.

''The market has been very strong. Really good weather early in the season provided a great start.''

The quota for next season is likely to be the same as the industry takes a ''conservative approach'' in re-assessing mortality rates and making judgements on quotas. 

The long-term plan was to assess the oysters from year to year until a quota of 15 million was reached, he said.


The Southland Times