Luxton Approves Early Start To Oyster Season (09 Apr 99)
Food and Fibre, Minister John Luxton today announced an early start to the Bluff oyster season prompted by the continuing good health in the Bluff oyster beds.
"I have approved the April 11 start date following a clean bill of health for the Foveaux Strait oyster fishery from the Ministry of Fisheries. I'm pleased to say the research shows the disease which crippled the country's much-loved underwater shellfish beds last year, is no longer present."
" 'Bonamia' had affected Bluff oysters for the past 10 years but the latest reports show that oyster stocks are rebuilding at a good rate and the disease has all but gone from the beds."
Past seasons had begun later in an effort to stop the spread of the disease 'Bonamia' which was at its most infectious during autumn, when the beds were traditionally harvested.
With the continuing growth of the oyster beds, there is also a possibility of increased catch limits next year if a survey scheduled by the Ministry of Fisheries for October shows beds continuing to rebuild.
The current oyster season will run until August 31, with no change in the catch limit set at 14.95 million oysters.
The Minister said any suggestion that the start date of the oyster season had been brought forward to align with conception dates for millennium babies was merely coincidence.