Deadly oyster virus detected in South Australia

2018-03-02 02:46:58 GMT2018-03-02 10:46:58(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

CANBERRA, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The potentially devastating Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) has been detected in South Australia for the first time.

Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) confirmed on Thursday night that the virus has been found in feral Pacific oysters but has not yet been detected in any farms.

The quick-spreading virus causes rapid death and high mortality rates among Pacific oysters.

A POMS outbreak in Tasmania in 2016 devastated the state's oyster farming industry, leading to bans on anything oyster-related being transported from Tasmania to any other Australian state.

Tasmanian farmers reported their stock being reduced by up to 70 percent by the outbreak.

Despite the virus making its way to South Australia, the industry remained confident that its bio-security systems would prevent it from spreading.

"It's fairly devastating at this stage and we hope that it's contained within that area and that the environment, water temperature and salinity are sufficiently different from where we grow our oysters," farmer Michael Whillas told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.

"It's getting too close to home and will make things more and more difficult, but it's now just a time factor to see what will eventuate."

PIRSA authorities said that they would continue to monitor and test oysters in Adelaide's Port River where POMS was detected.

Executive director Sean Sloan warned that fishers and recreational boat owners who are planning to head to Port River should be careful.

"Fishers and boat users are urged to follow guidelines to protect South Australia's waters and stop the spread of POMS," Sloan said.