Bluff oyster lovers will be heartened to learn that NIWA surveys of the oyster beds in Foveaux Strait show them to be looking increasingly healthy.
The Bluff oyster season starts today, so you will soon see the expensive delicacy on menus at good restaurants around the country. But as in recent years, prices will be high as the fishing industry maintain’s a self-imposed limit of 7.5 million oysters, as opposed to a 15 million annual catch entitlement.
Bluff oyster stocks have been limited for years due to bonamia, the nasty blood disease that affects shellfish.
As NIWA points out:
Bonamia is an oyster-specific disease that is not harmful to other animal or humans. It kills oysters by sapping their energy, so that they cannot keep their shells together, exposing them to the many oyster predators.
The only time you want a Bluff oyster to be exposed to a predator is when the predator is you and the oyster is sitting exposed in its shell with a squirt of lemon over it!
The industry isn’t out of the woods yet. While oyster numbers in key fishing areas seem to be increasing, oyster density is decreasing in some areas.
A fuller picture of the health of the Bluff oyster fishery will emerge in April when NIWA’s investigation into Bluff oyster population health gets a public release.
In the meantime, some lovely photos of Bluff oysters and oyster fishers. All photos below supplied by NIWA…