POMS outbreak Hawkesbury River Jan 2013

Long lines with baskets at the entrance to Mooney Mooney Creek. Mortality here approached 100% by day 5 of the outbreak.

Long lines with baskets at the entrance to Mooney Mooney Creek. Mortality here approached 100% by day 5 of the outbreak.

There was unfortunate news for the Australian oyster industry on the morning of January 21st when mortality was detected in young oysters in a nursery lease in the Hawkesbury River, and confirmed as POMS (infection with the virus OsHV-1 uvar).

Since 2010 POMS had been confined to the Georges River and Port Jackson, which lie about 40 km south of Broken Bay, into which the Hawkesbury River flows. The means of spread over this distance is not known because there are no commercial movements of farmed oysters between these locations.

The beautiful Hawkesbury River is home to an important industry based at Mooney Mooney, with 14 registered farmers who produced $2.2M of triploid Pacific oysters on 245 Ha of leases in 2011/2012 (NSW DPI). Production after this year will be zero as most juvenile stock have already been killed by the virus, and it is not technically possible to reintroduce oysters without risk of them dying.

This blog contains a great deal of information. It describes in diary form the daily events as the outbreak unfolded, the emergency response that was mounted over the first few weeks, and some plans for the future.

We believe that as a result of this outbreak over $3M was lost in a few weeks. This represents just the first year of losses, as there are no immediate options to continue Pacific oyster farming. Several businesses have already closed, many staff have lost their jobs and the industry in NSW has been destabilised. Urgent efforts are required to diversify production while technical solutions are found. This is a national crisis.

The details of this outbreak should be a reminder to everyone of the severity of this disease. Oyster farmers in other areas should take steps to reduce the risk of its spread to their region by adopting sound biosecurity strategies. Business plans must be reviewed. A national strategy is required to insure that the entire industry is prepared.

Contents (see links in menu bar)

For more information please see Department of Primary Industries NSW: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/aquaculture/info/poms

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