Based on current events it is likely that POMS will continue to emerge or spread in Australia. The timeframe is unknown and could be weeks, months or years. The impact of each outbreak is likely to be severe. Are there any steps that oyster growers can take to prepare? Here are some suggestions. Comments are welcome using the response feature of this blog. Responses will be moderated and published.
- Oyster growers should form strong local associations to work collectively.
- Local grower associations should form strong relations with relevant government departments (DPI in most states) and local councils
- Local growers should agree on key steps that will be taken in the event of an outbreak, including voluntary quarantine of the region and an immediate stop on local oyster movements until disease distribution is clear
- All oyster movements should be recorded in a diary
- All mortality events should be reported to the relevant authority
- If investing in infrastructure, make provision for growing heights at least 300 mm above standard. Raising oysters during the risk period has been shown to reduce mortality of adult oysters by 50% in FRDC research projects 2011-053 and 2012-032.
- Obtain professional assistance to assess business risk
- Local grower associations should consider the regular testing of local stock for OsHV-1 infection. We have shown that the virus may be present for 2 weeks to 2 months before onset of mortality (Georges River). This provides a window during which a response such as emergency harvest combined with movement controls can be implemented.