Let the oyster season begin

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

Bluff Oyster Management Company spokesman and Barnes Oysters manager Graeme Wright prepares for the Bluff Oyster season, which opens tomorrow.

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Tonight, just before midnight, the first of the oyster boats will slip out to sea.

They will wait until the clock strikes 12, marking one of the biggest days of the year for some Southland fisherman, as they gather the first Bluff oysters for the year.

The season begins tomorrow and is touted to be another successful year of the mouth-watering delicacy.

Bluff Oyster Management Company spokesman and Barnes Oysters manager Graeme Wright said this season was expected to be just as good as last year's, when the industry scooped 13 million oysters from the waters of Foveaux Strait.

"Early indicators are things are pretty good out there."

But even though the oysters may look healthy, the weather does not.

Despite MetService predicting showers and a westerly wind, Mr Wright said he still expected to have 11 boats in the fleet heading out to sea tomorrow morning.

Those wanting the first dozen for the year will be lining up outside oyster retailers tomorrow morning.

Some came every day for the first few weeks of the season, others just wanted their annual salty taste of the fresh seafood, he said.

Mr Wright said the phones had already been "ringing hot" from all over the North Island and the hype was certainly building.

The industry was building and growing every year after it was ravaged by disease more than a decade ago, he said.

Bonamia is an oyster-killing disease that wiped out an estimated 1.5 billion oysters during the big outbreak in 2001-02.

Mr Wright said the industry was trying to remain sustainable and would assess how many oysters they would catch further into the season, he hoped to match, if not increase the 13.2 million caught last year.

But in the meantime, the machinery will be cranked up, the boats packed tonight and the dozens of staff ready for another busy season. 

 

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- The Southland Times

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