POMS oyster virus outbreak hits SA

The pacific oyster mortality syndrome, known as POMS, has been detected in South Australia for the first time but not in the state’s oyster farming areas.

Routine research, aimed at improving early detection of the POMS virus, detected the virus in feral Pacific oysters in the Port River in February.

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) will continue to monitor and test oysters in the Port River, and any other possible areas of risk.

All strategies to mitigate the risk of spread of the virus are being investigated.

Eyre Peninsula’s oyster industry is already feeling the affects of an outbreak of the virus in Tasmania in February 2016, which led to a ban on spat imports from the state into South Australia.

To reduce the risk of POMS spreading, PIRSA has implemented a ban on the removal of all bivalve organisms (oysters, mussels, cockles) from the Port River until further notice.

Bivalves should not be taken from the Port River area for any purpose including bait or berley.

PIRSA is working with key fishing and aquaculture sectors and boat owners to ensure vessels are clean and to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

POMS is a notifiable disease and must be immediately reported. Report suspicion of POMS to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522.

CLOSURE: The areas in the Port River where the bivalve shellfish closure applies

CLOSURE: The areas in the Port River where the bivalve shellfish closure applies

What is the POMS virus?

POMS is a disease that causes rapid death and high mortality rates in Pacific Oysters.

The disease spreads quickly if introduced and is a serious threat to the oyster farming industry.

The virus poses no threat to food safety or human health; recreational Port River users are not at any risk.

More information is available at www.pir.sa.gov.au/poms 

What you can do to help

Fishers and boaters can help stop the spread of POMS by ensuring they follow these steps before their vessels leave the Port River for other areas of the state:

Ensure vessel hulls are clean and remove plants and animals from fishing and boating equipment and clothing so you don’t transfer pests and diseases to other waterways.

Where possible, wash boats and equipment with light household detergent, rinse with tap water without letting the water drain into waterways, and importantly dry completely before moving to another waterway.

Bivalves cannot be taken from the Port River for any purpose including bait or berley.

Never use seafood sold for human consumption as bait or berley.

Boat owners should refer to the guidelines for good vessel cleaning practices.