People go wild over farmed oysters
@devlincolle While some count down the days until the opening of the Bluff oyster season, others have been devouring Bluff farmed oysters all year round.
It could be one of Southland's best-kept secrets, but farmed oysters have been on the market all year.
They have been sold by two Southland retailers since midway through the Bluff wild oyster season last year.
One of the retailers said they had been flying off the shelves, at $28 a dozen.
Sanford Ltd has been farming Bluff oysters in Big Glory Bay, Stewart Island, for the past three years.
Sanford Southland manager Thomas Foggo said the company planned to continue the growth of the farm during the coming months, with the aim of making it a commercially viable operation.
He believed the farm could be big enough for proper harvesting by September.
In the meantime, Sanford had recently harvested several hundred dozen oysters and supplied two local shops with them, Mr Foggo said.
"This is only a small number. We have really only been playing around and now we are starting to make progress."
Southern Seafoods owner Peter van Duivenvoorde said Sanford had been supplying them each Wednesday with dozens of farmed oysters, fresh from the island.
Initially the oysters were so big they could fit only six in each pottle, but now they were uniform in size, he said.
The oysters had been a hit with both Southlanders and tourists, who had been able to taste the oysters all year round.
"You get tourists coming here and they don't understand it.
"They come for the famous Bluff oysters but they have to wait for months."
There were mixed opinions on the farmed oysters.
Some thought they were too mild, others thought they were better than the wild ones, he said.
Mr van Duivenvoorde said it was the first year they had sold the delicacy.
"I believe they are beautiful.
"We've tried to keep it quiet."
Mr Foggo said the farmed oysters were not a spoiler for what was the "real oyster season", when wild Bluff oysters are dredged from Foveaux Strait.
The season begins tomorrow.
The Southland Times