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Stewart Island oyster cull ahead of plan

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/06/2017

The removal of flat oysters from Big Glory Bay in Stewart Island in a bid to halt the spread of a lethal parasite is ahead of schedule, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.

The cull comes after Bonamia ostreae, which isn't a food safety issue but can be fatal to the oysters, was found on two oyster farms.

It began on Monday and MPI field headquarters manager Andrew Sander says progress has exceeded expectations.

By the end of Friday, the first phase of the operation will have been completed, he says.

That involves about 700 cages, with about 12 truckloads totalling about 25 tonnes being taken to the landfill.

Mr Sander says the operation has run smoothly, and support from local iwi, oystermen, operators, farmers, councils, Environment Southland and community has been vital.

Phase two, which involves the lifting of the last cages and then the ropes, will start at the weekend, sooner than anticipated.

"The impact on the lives of those affected by this cannot be underestimated," Mr Sander said.

"Supporting the community, individuals and families affected by the response is a high priority for us."

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