The Bluff oyster season is almost at an end - and it is not one to write home about.
Barnes Oysters general manager Graeme Wright said it was the worst oyster season he had seen in terms of product and quality of the oysters.
He said not one thing could be blamed for the season but it was just what happened when working with a wild fishery.
"The quality was disappointing — probably the worst I have seen in my 26 years in the industry," he said.
"But it is like a crop of spuds.
"Some years you can plant them and they go great — other years it just doesn't happen.
"That is just the way it is."
Factors that could have affected the oysters included the drought in Southland over summer and autumn, which led to a decline in freshwater heading into the sea.
"There was not a lot of freshwater and saltwater interaction.
"Then we got a lot of easterlies, not many southwesters, which bring up the nutrients and plankton that the oysters need," Wright said.
He said reproductivity was high in the oysters, which was promising for the future, but it meant oysters were not of such high quality this year.
The total allowable catch of Bluff oysters every year was just under 15 million, but there was a voluntary quota set by the industry of just half that and Barnes Oysters met its quota late last week, he said.
Other processors in the industry had either reached their quota or were not far off.
The season finishes on August 31 if the quota is not met.
Wright said there were good juvenile oysters, which bode well for the future, although the oysters took a long time to grow — six to eight years — to full maturity.
He said demand was still high and at $28.50 for a raw dozen in his shop, they had no problem getting rid of them.
Staff had remained loyal and there had been some issues with Covid-19 isolation and then the flu season arriving but, overall, processors had managed to get through.
There had been no sign of the Bonamia ostreae disease, which had sent worries through the industry in recent times.