Proactive Campaign Against Oyster Virus Risk

Blowtorches and hammers are being used to destroy feral oysters in Adelaide’s Port River this December.

Protecting South Australia’s $32 million commercial oyster industry lies at the heart of this proactive campaign.

A specialist team contracted by the South Australian Government are busy in the Port River area, using hammers and blowtorches to kill the feral oyster population at high density sites to reduce the risk of the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) virus spreading to oyster farming areas this summer.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the oyster destruction would reduce the number of feral oysters in the Port River by the end of the year and therefore reduce the potential viral load at strategic locations in the River.

“In February this year, the POMS virus was detected in feral oysters in the Port River area,” said Minister Whetstone.

“Our oyster growing areas on the Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and West Coast all tested negative to the virus, and we have worked with industry to remain vigilant with ongoing surveillance programs for early detection in the oyster farming areas.

“The POMS virus causes rapid death and high mortality rates in farmed Pacific Oysters, up to 100 per cent within days of being detected, and can spread quickly.

 “With warmer temperatures on their way, the risk of the virus becoming active increases, so killing a large number of feral oysters in the Port River will reduce the potential level of the virus in the river, reducing the risk of the virus spreading to the oyster farming areas.

 “If you’re a boat owner or operator please help by keeping your boat hulls clean, and reduce biofouling by using appropriate antifouling paint and following the guidelines available on the PIRSA website.

“If you are a fisher, remember there is a ban on removing oysters, mussels, cockles, razorfish or any other bivalve shellfish from the Port River system from West Lakes to Port Gawler.

“These are not to be taken from the Port River area for any purpose, including bait or berley.”

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