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Bluff oyster season opens March 28

Bluff oyster season opens March 28

The Bluff oyster season will open on March 28 with the same reduced catch limit as last season, following a survey of the fishery showing little change in its condition.

Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope said a cautious catch limit was justified in light of the survey last month, which had shown that oyster density remained at similar low levels and the oyster disease Bonamia was still present in parts of the fishery.

Most oysters are now found in the eastern beds, where there has been some increase in the number of oysters. There are likely to be further losses to Bonamia in this area over the next few months as the parasite is still active at this time of year.

Oyster quota holders have again agreed to maintain a reduced catch limit of 7.5 million oysters, down from the 14.95 million taken before Bonamia reduced oyster numbers by more than half over 2000-2003.

"Fishing is believed to have relatively little influence on the beds given the losses to Bonamia," said Mr Benson-Pope. "The reduced commercial catch limit will help ensure that the fishery recovers as rapidly as possible once the disease has run its course."

The commercial season runs until 31 August. The recreational oyster season started on 1 March and runs until 31 August each year.

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