April 16, 2018
South Australia commercial oysters declared disease-free
South Australia has lifted a ban on commercial operations in the entire state's Pacific oyster farming areas after samples from those areas tested negative to the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) virus.
"These results are a welcomed 'all-clear' for our commercial oyster industry to return to normal operations," said Peter Dietman, acting executive director of fisheries and aquaculture of the government agency Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA.
Earlier in March, the POMS virus was detected in feral Pacific oysters in South Australia, particularly Port River. PIRSA stressed that the virus had not been detected in oyster farming areas.
Dietman said PIRSA has achieved extensive surveillance and testing of oysters from multiple sites in each of the growing areas on Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula and the Eyre Peninsula, as well as all oyster hatcheries.
He said PIRSA will maintain its focus on addressing the feral oyster population in the Port River, which has already considerably reduced, and will continue a surveillance programme with industry for early detection.
Water temperature drop
"The water temperature will drop over the coming weeks and this will further mitigate the potential risk of the virus spreading outside of the Port River, as any remaining virus will likely become inactive", he added.
The removal of any bivalve shellfish such as oysters, mussels, cockles and Razorfish from the Port River area, including West Lakes, is still prohibited.
"PIRSA will continue to work closely with the oyster industry in planning for any future commercial risks from the POMS virus", Dietman said
"South Australia's oysters are delicious and safe to eat, and that has never been compromised during this incident", said Trudy McGowan, executive officer of the SA Oyster Growers' Association.
The first Australian case of POMS was recorded in 2010 in New South Wales, and the most recent outbreak in commercially grown oysters was detected in Tasmania in February 2016.