20 Feb 2015

New harbour for Bluff oysters?

7:30 am on 20 February 2015

Two marine farming companies want to shift Bluff oysters to Otago Harbour so they can be brought up to export standards.

Southern Clams and the New Zealand Bluff Oyster Company first applied for consent in 2013 but have since revised their proposal. Their consent application opens for public consultation tomorrow.

Bluff Community Board

The marine farming companies want to move oysters from Bluff to cleaner waters for up to four weeks. Photo: 123RF

The quality of water in Bluff Harbour means shellfish cannot be taken for direct sale but they can be farmed there and matured elsewhere.

But in their proposal, the New Zealand Bluff Oyster Company and Southern Clams said farming the oysters for two years in Bluff Harbour and then moving the oysters to cleaner water for up to four weeks would be enough to get them up to international standards.

Kaumatua at the Otakou marae, Edward Ellison, said the proposed 24-hectare are in the Otago Harbour is huge and the Otakou Runanga wants to make sure the latest proposal matches their views.

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Photo: 123RF

"There are a number of matters the proposal will need to address before we could say we would be happy with the proposal. There's the fishery, the water column, the sea bed and also access to various parts of the harbour."

Managing director of Southern Clams, Roger Belton, said it has altered its application to meet these concerns.

"We've tweaked locations, the boundaries, we've done quite a lot of work on preparing a fuller consent application to answer all the questions that have been raised about it."

Mr Belton said the proposal would bring the oysters up to export standard including markets in the United States and Europe.

He said it expects to 1.5 million oysters will be handled by 2017 and the proposal has the potential to attract millions of dollars into the region.

Submissions close on 20 March with a hearing expected to take place at the end of April.

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