Oyster industry found to be POMS free

Remaining restrictions on the movement of pacific oysters between growing regions were lifted last week when all growing areas and hatcheries were found to be free of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS).

The results, which were announced on Friday, allowed the standstill on the movement of any pacific oysters to be lifted returning in the industry to business as usual.

South Australian Oyster Growers’ Association executive officer Trudy McGowan said the response from Primary Industry and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) to the detection of POMS in the Port River feral oyster population had been “decisive and swift”.

“Our growers have felt very supported, with clear and frequent updates from PIRSA,” Ms McGowan said.

Ms McGowan said growers had been involved right from the start in gathering samples from their regions for testing, and distributing communications materials to let the community know what they could do to help stop the spread of aquatic diseases.

PIRSA fisheries and aquaculture acting executive director Peter Dietman said the result was a “welcomed all clear” for the commercial oyster industry.

“PIRSA has been working closely with industry and, with growers’ assistance, has achieved extensive surveillance and testing of oysters from multiple sites in each of our growing areas on Kangaroo Island, Yorke Peninsula, and the Eyre Peninsula as well as all oyster hatcheries,” Mr Dietman said. 

“We are very pleased to be able to lift the statewide standstill prohibiting movement of oysters between growing sites, effective immediately, which together with our earlier lifting of prohibitions for hatcheries fully returns our $32-million oyster industry to business as usual.”

Mr Dietman said over the coming weeks the water temperature would drop which would further mitigate the potential risk of the virus spreading outside of the Port River, as any remaining virus would likely become inactive.

Ms McGowan said since the outbreak of POMS the quality of oysters had never been in question.

“South Australia’s oysters are delicious and safe to eat, and that has never been compromised during this incident,” she said.

“We encourage everyone to continue supporting our local industry and purchase local oysters – this autumn season is a terrific time to enjoy SA’s oysters.”