[08 March/The Country]

Oyster license holders for the Foveaux Strait have agreed to limit their catch to 7.5 million oysters, half of the regulated total allowable catch of 15 million. This limit has increased the price of the famous wild oysters. The season opened on 1 March but has only properly started recently due to rough weather. Oysters in the Strait are slow growing in the cold water and around nine years old when harvested. Owners of the 12 vessels fishing the Strait will assess the state of the fishery at the end of the month potentially increasing the catch to 10 million if warranted. About 65 percent of the catch is licensed to Barnes Oysters, a cooperative of eight companies. The next biggest fisher is Ngāi Tahu Seafoods, and Foodstuffs supermarket chain also has a small holding. Seafood NZ stated despite the license holders caution, there is optimism about the state of the industry. This is due to no sign of the bonamia ostreae disease that has destroyed the farmed oyster industry on both Stewart Island and the Marlborough Sounds. Due to this, catches have fluctuated over time.