SA oyster disease breach ‘very concerning’

Assistant Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston says responds well to biosecurity threats.The federal government insists it is on top of ‘s biosecurity after a “very concerning” outbreak of oyster disease became the latest issue to threaten produce.

Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome was detected in South last week, joining fruit fly in Tasmania as a recent issue to hit the agriculture sector.

Assistant Agriculture Minister Anne Ruston said the government had acted quickly to protect markets.

” has a great reputation for its responses to biosecurity, but it is of a concern and something that should be taken very seriously,” Senator Ruston told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

POMS causes rapid death and high mortality rates in farmed Pacific Oysters and can spread quickly.

Tasmania’s $24 million-a-year oyster industry is still recovering after an outbreak of the disease was first detected in early 2016, contributing to low stocks for last year’s pre-Christmas harvest.

POMS was detected last week in Adelaide’s Port River, but has not yet been found in any of the state’s eight oyster growing regions.

“It is very concerning and we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to contain it in the area that it is,” Senator Ruston said.

Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said oyster disease had joined white spot in prawns, which last year crippled Queensland’s prawn industry, blueberry rust and fruit fly as recent biosecurity issues.

“This very deeply concerning most recent event surely now calls upon the government to give both our producers, growers, fishers and markets some confidence the government is across these issues,” Mr Fitzgibbon told AAP.

He believes exporters will be concerned over recent developments and accused the government of “staying quiet” on the issue.

But Senator Ruston said the government had a proven track record on dealing with breaches.

“What has shown is that while we aren’t immune to pest and disease outbreaks, what we have done is put in place extraordinary measures to respond to them,” Senator Ruston said.

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