November 16, 2011


South Australia's biosecurity centre to protect seafood industry


Scientists at a new US$2.4-million biosecurity facility at Roseworthy are making sure that safeguarding the state's seafood industry as their top priority.


The South Australian Aquatic Biosecurity Centre, funded by the State Government, will study pests and diseases that live in marine or fresh water.


Research leader Dr Marty Deveney says it's the only facility of its kind in Australia. Infectious organisms can be isolated and contained for a thorough investigation.


Deveney said the biggest threat is always the one that you don't know about and one of the fantastic things about having a facility like this is it acts as a kind of insurance against an emerging disease. So if there is a disease that suddenly appears in a population, they can work on it and start to obtain information about it right away.


Abalone industry spokesman Bob Pennington said the recent outbreak of a herpes-like virus in abalone interstate was a major concern.


He said it took more than 12 months for the scientists to develop a means of testing whether or not an animal was affected. That was 12 months in which the disease got a stranglehold.


While the disease never made it to South Australia, Pennington said there was no guarantee their stocks would remain disease-free in the future.


He said it's better in the future to be safe than sorry. They'd like to see some of the known diseases - pathogens and nasties - being investigated so they could have a far better handle on the diseases and how they could possibly prevent them from occurring, or confine the spread of any future disease.'


The Centre is on the University of Adelaide Roseworthy Campus, along with the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences.


University vice-chancellor Professor James McWha said students would be given the unique opportunity to study the health of aquatic animals within the veterinary curriculum. "This purpose-built centre will strengthen our animal research and teaching capacity at the Roseworthy Campus, building on our expertise in production animals, companion animals and equine health,'' he said.

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