BC Oyster Season Is Nearing Its End, And New Zealand Oysters Offer Healthier and Tastier Substitute

Oysters, the modern delicacy of the oceans, have seasons that dictate how tasty, and most importantly, how safe they are to eat. As the northwest Pacific ocean warms in the summer heat, BC oyster season is nearing its end and they’re becoming dangerous to eat. Yet in the southern Pacific ocean, the cooler ocean waters are perfect conditions for tasty and healthy oysters. 46° South, a Vancouver-based business that imports New Zealand seafood to some of Canada’s best known restaurants and food retailers, is just beginning to import some of their healthiest and tastiest oyster harvests.

As BC ocean waters warm in May and June, oysters begin to spawn and expend most of their energy doing it, sapping them of their energy to feed which creates their tasty and firm meat. Warmer waters also mean that there’s a heightened risk of Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vp) bacteria and Red Tide toxins in the oysters. Both can cause serious illness and can even be deadly when consumed by humans. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has already closed large parts of the Strait of Georgia to shellfish harvesting to Red Tide outbreaks.

“At 46° South, we pride ourselves on delivering the highest quality product from Kiwi waters that abides by some of the strictest sustainability standards of any fishery around the world,” said Mark Urwin, founder and CEO of 46° South. “The New Zealand oyster is entering its prime season, plump and tasty and the best alternative to any BC oyster on the market right now.”

With three flights direct a week from Auckland to Vancouver, 46° South’s delicious live oysters can be on dinner plates and ready to shuck within 36 hours of harvest. We are just entering prime New Zealand oyster season, where their meat is plump and tasty, and they’re free of all the toxins and bacteria that BC oysters are at risk of having.

Why Canadians should choose New Zealand oysters this summer:

  • Their meat is at their firmest and plumpest, as opposed to the summer milky soft meat of BC oysters (not preferred).

  • They are free of Vp bacteria and Red Tide toxins, which can cause serious illness and sometimes death.

  • The New Zealand fishery is recognized as one of the world’s most sustainable, and well-managed fisheries. New Zealand waters are also recognized as some of the most pristine and clean in the world, making them ideal for oyster harvesting.

  • The organic Kalpara oyster has won awards around the world, most recently as a finalist at the European Seafood Exposition.

  • The Coromandel oyster has an undeniably exotic taste, with a crisp oceanic brine with vibrant hints of minerality and a clean cucumber finish. It’s unlike anything available from BC oyster farms.

Reviews of 46° South’s New Zealand oysters by some of Canada’s top seafood experts:

  • “North America has a summer. There must be a winter for an oyster? Beautiful, New Zealand has two families of oysters that make a North American oyster presenter like Rodney's Oyster House get goose bumps: the New Zealand oyster is brilliant. 46° South does small quantities of quality oysters that affix themselves to our client's forks, who expect fresh, quality products.” Rodney Clark “The Oysterman”, founder of Rodney’s Oyster House.

  • “Customers demand seafood year round and the West Coast seasons are fairly small. BC summers continue to get warmer and that means local oyster farms will be affected. The New Zealand oysters we are able to get from 46° South allow us to have a superior product year round."  Andrew Hall, Operations, Chewies Steam & Oyster Bar Vancouver

  • “With all the fear and health risks of eating raw BC oysters during the summer, it's hard to explain to people why there aren't any oysters available for eating raw. With the growing amount of "foodies" in Vancouver,  having reliable, safe-to-eat, raw oysters to sell all year is definitely a necessity at my store.” Brian Hamatake, Owner of Seafood City Vancouver