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Oyster cull begins for Stewart Island bay

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago

A cull of flat oysters from Big Glory Bay in Stewart Island is about to begin in an attempt to stop the spread of a lethal parasite.

The Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed the move earlier this month after Bonamia ostreae was found in two marine farms in the bay.

The operation begins on Monday morning. It is not yet known how long it will take to cull the estimated 4000 tonnes of oysters.

The culling process involves the caged oysters being pulled up by crane and taken to a landfill in Bluff.

The risk of the disease spreading was high, MPI's Geoff Gwynn says, given the epidemiology of Bonamia ostreae, and the proximity of the two affected marine farms to others.

The oysters will be disinfected and wrapped and the equipment used to transport them, including the crane, trucks, barge and freighter, will also be disinfected after use.

Vessels will also take an indirect route from Stewart Island that avoids passing near oyster fisheries in Foveaux Strait and sites of significance to local iwi.

Locals asked authorities to act quickly and to minimise the chance of any further spread during the removal process.

"The removal operation is a huge task and we are thankful for the support of the community and assistance from oyster farmers to make it happen," Mr Gwynn said.

Bonamia ostreae has not yet been found in Bluff oysters in Foveaux Strait, however, MPI is continuing surveillance.

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