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Bluff oyster catch to be halved for 2003

Bluff oyster catch to be halved for 2003

Commercial catch for the Bluff oyster fishery will be halved when the season begins on 23 March. Oyster quota holders have agreed to reduce their catch from 14.95 to 7.5 million oysters after surveys of the oyster beds showed oyster numbers had halved over the past year, due to the oyster disease Bonamia.

The surveys also show the percentage of oysters infected with the disease may be dropping, indicating the disease may now be waning.

“With the fishery hopefully entering a recovery phase, it is important that remaining oyster beds are carefully managed to allow the fishery to quickly rebuild,” said Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson. “Numbers of small oysters remain high, and the fishery rebuilt quickly under similar circumstances in the early 1990s”.

The oyster fleet will avoid beds with high numbers of small oysters to safeguard their recovery. Monitoring will continue over the season to determine if further steps are required.

The commercial season runs until 31 August. The recreational oyster season, which began on 1 March, also ends on 31 August. The recreational limit of 50 oysters a day remains unchanged.

"I freely acknowledge the responsible approach being taken to the management of the fishery by the Bluff Oyster Management Company," Mr Hodgson said.

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