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Mussel Shortage Causing Job Layoffs

Lucy Towers
10 April 2013, at 1:00am

NEW ZEALAND - Workers are being told to go home as a hot dry summer is causing poor mussel yields in the Nelson area.

Mussel yields are affected by the amount of nutrients in the water column and vary year on year, but industry sources are saying that this is the worst year they can remember, reports NelsonMail.

The Wakatu Incorporation's Kono Seafoods has laid off nearly 200 workers at its Blenheim processing plant for a month. The Nelson Ranger Fishing Company has also shut down its Picton factory, affecting 50 staff. It too hopes to reopen next month.

Talley's Fisheries processes mussels in Motueka. Director Andrew Talley declined to go into specifics on any effects on the workforce but confirmed it was a poor mussel season, reports NelsonMail.

"All processors are facing the same supply side issues - low yields and poor growth rates," Mr Talley told the newspaper. "We are no different but it's part and parcel of a seasonal industry highly dependent on matters outside your control. The wheel will turn."

It hoped that in another month or so Marlborough Sounds mussels would be fat enough to harvest again.

Wakatu Incorporation chief executive Keith Palmer said last week that national mussel production would fall from 130,000 tonnes to 80,000 tonnes this year and he would be reporting to shareholders that "mussels are a disaster, as the whole industry knows".