[8 June/ Radio NZ]

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been considering pulling up thousands of farmed oysters in Stewart Island to stop the spread of bonamia ostreae. The parasite was found in two oyster farms in the area, and there are fears it could spread to nearby wild oyster populations in the Foveaux Strait. This would create a $20 million disaster for the Bluff oyster industry. A meeting of 100 people from the Bluff oyster industry called a complete cull of the oysters. Bluff Oyster Management Company Operations Manager Graeme Wright said international literature and best science states the only way of minimising the spread of the parasite is to remove all of the infected farmed oysters, adding the number of farmed oysters didn’t compare to the large amount in the wild beds in the Foveaux Strait. Bluff Community Board Chair Ray Fife said the parasite brings a 95 to 100 percent mortality rate, and the ministry needed to make an urgent decision.