Blowtorches used to stop spread of devastating oyster virus in South Australia

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 21, 2018
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CANBERRA, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- A specialist team using blowtorches and hammers had been deployed to stop the spread of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in South Australia (SA).

The SA government on Friday confirmed it has taken extreme measures to eradicate POMS, a disease that causes the rapid death of Pacific Oysters, after it was detected in Adelaide's Port River in February.

If the virus spreads from the river to oyster farming areas, it would be devastating for the industry, potentially wiping out the livelihood of those farmers.

Tim Whetstone, SA's primary industries minister, said the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australia (PIRSA) had contracted a company to eradicate feral oysters infected with POMS in the Port River using blowtorches and hammers.

"It's vital we protect our commercial oyster industry from the threat of POMS and take every measure to reduce the threat of it in South Australia," he told News Corp Australia on Friday.

"The oyster industry's famed produce is sought after by seafood consumers across Australia and worldwide, bringing benefits to local communities through employment, tourism and flow-on economic activity."

A 2016 POMS outbreak in Tasmania has crippled Australia's supply of oyster larvae, commonly known as spat. Prior to the outbreak, SA growers sourced 80 percent of their spat from Tasmania.

A ban on importing spat from Tasmania has resulted in the value of SA's oyster growing industry falling from 37 million Australian dollars (26 million U.S. dollars) in 2015-16 to 12 million Australian dollars in 2017-18.

"The industry is really aware of the issue the feral population could cause because it's an unmanaged population, so we do our best to control that," said Steve Thomson, a board member of the SA Oyster Growers Association.

"PIRSA have also got on board with the industry and doing as much as they physically can with the funding and numbers they've got. Their response has been great." Enditem

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