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Bluff oyster fishery showing signs of recovery

24 March 2005

Bluff oyster fishery showing signs of recovery

A survey of the Bluff oyster fishery carried out last month has revealed little sign of Bonamia, the disease which has decimated the oyster beds, although the number of mature oysters remains low, says Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope.

The commercial oyster season is scheduled to commence this Sunday, 27 March, with the same catch limit applying as last season, which the Minister believes will help ensure a rapid rebuild of the fishery.

Oyster quota holders have again decided to maintain a reduced catch limit of 7.5 million oysters, down from the 14.95 million taken before Bonamia killed around one billion oysters in the period 2000-2003.

“We are confident the fishery should rebuild rapidly over the next few years if the disease has run its course, due to the large number of juvenile oysters,” Mr Benson-Pope said. "But for oyster lovers this year will have to be another where less is more."

The survey results tally with recreational oyster fisher’s reports of low catches over the past few years. Recreational fishers have found it hard-going over the past two seasons, particularly in the traditional fishing areas along the Stewart Island coast.

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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