1 Dec 2011

Virus decimating young Pacific oyster crops

7:09 am on 1 December 2011

Sanford is trying to find ways to grow oysters away from areas affected by a virus which is decimating young crops.

The listed fishing and seafood company made $22.3 million in the year to the end of September, compared with $25 million in the previous year, as it was hit by the high New Zealand dollar and fuel costs and unexpected repair costs.

Sanford's managing director Eric Barratt says the recent fall in the New Zealand dollar is pleasing and the company has some protection against future rises in 2012.

He says demand is holding up for seafood products, but there's a question about whether prices will too.

Mr Barratt says he's reasonably confident that the price is remaining stable on most of Sandford's main species.

But he says they're concerned about salmon prices which have declined substantially over recent months.

Mr Barratt says Sanford has increased the volume of its value-added salmon products and diversified those away from some of the company's commodity markets.

He says that is working but there are price pressures there as well.

Mr Barratt says the company managed reasonable harvests of mature oysters during the year, which it sold at record prices, but the virus affecting Pacific oysters is decimating young crops for future years.

He says Sanford is trying to work out how to grow the oysters in parts of the ocean where that virus doesn't have the same effect.