13 Jun 2017

Culled oysters headed for dump, farmer says

8:47 pm on 13 June 2017

It is likely the oysters that will be ripped out to save the Bluff oyster industry will be dumped, not eaten, a local farmer says.

Stewart Island oyster farmer talks to John Campbell: RNZ Checkpoint

Oysters on Stewart Island. Photo: RNZ / YouTube

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has ordered a cull of farmed oysters in Stewart Island's Big Glory Bay and the Marlborough Sounds to try to stop the spread of the parasite, Bonamia ostreae, which could threaten the famous Bluff oyster industry.

Oyster farmer Rodney Clark met with MPI this afternoon and said ministry officials were professional and had a thorough understanding of the situation.

He said the number of oysters being culled would be too many for any factory to process for the market, and farmers would probably have do dispose of most of them.

"This is what needs to happen for the good of our Southland community and the good of our Southland fisheries."

Another farmer, Jeff Walker, was also at the meeting and told Checkpoint he felt it went positively.

Mr Walker said farmers were prepared to work together in the culling process, and they were facing the possibility that they may not be able to farm again.

MPI is not yet certain how much compensation it will pay Stewart Island oyster farmers over the incident, but the uncapped settlement would not take account of lost future earnings.

MPI director Geoff Gwyn said any payout would cover the oysters that were lost to the infection, but would not cover any farmers who go out of business.

"The compensation package is related to the direct costs as a result of our executing powers under the Biosecurity Act.

"It's not focused on long-term protected costs, it's about directly verifiable costs as a result of our actions."

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