Oyster season nears end

22:00, Jul 16 2012

A successful season will draw to a close for some Bluff oyster operators this week.

Direct Fish and Oyster manager Karen Calder said the company would likely fill its quota by Friday, if the weather held.

The company's two boats were out at sea yesterday and a solid week of dredging would just about see it bring in its final oysters for the year, she said.

"It has been a fantastic season despite the weather in June slowing things down a bit," Mrs Calder said.

Fishing was limited to just 10 days in June but the exceptional conditions at the start of the season balanced things out, she said.

The quality of the oysters was high and the market had held up, Mrs Calder said.

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Greg Mead, skipper of the Southern Enterprise and owner of Marina Fish and Oysters, said he would be heading out to sea for the last time today.

"I have one more small catch and then I'll need to look for something else to do," he said.

It had been a good year, with plenty of good-sized oysters.

The weather in the first half of the season had been ideal, Mr Mead said.

Johnson's Oysters owner Ben Calder said the company had two boats supplying the business, with one of the boats having reached its quota.

"We have another boat still going out and it looks like we will finish at the end of the month," he said.

The industry received a boost this season with 2 million oysters added to the catch limits because of the improved state of the Foveaux fishery.

A self-regulated limit of 9.53 million oysters was bumped up to 11.5 million after discussions between the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the Primary Industries Ministry, oyster boat skippers and quota owners.

Mr Calder said the extra quota had been good for the oystermen and was well received.

Barnes Oysters manager Graeme Wright said his company would still be processing oysters until mid-August.

neil.ratley@stl.co.nz

The Southland Times