Abalone virus sparks warning

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    Diseased abalone have been found in Port Macdonnell in the the south-east of South Australia, leading to a warning for fishers in other parts of the state.

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    The Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) has instigated a control zone spanning from near Mount Gambier to the Victorian border.

    A commercial abalone fisher reported dead and dying abalone at Breaksea Reef off Port Macdonnell on February 21 and submitted samples to PIRSA for testing.

    PIRSA has activated a response team and measures to contain the spread of abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG).

    South Australia’s acting chief veterinary officer Dr Elise Spark said it was essential to prevent the spread of this disease, as a widespread outbreak would be devastating to the South Australian abalone industry.

    “Everyone needs to understand and comply with the restrictions that have been put in place, and immediately report any dead or dying abalone in any part of the state to the Fishwatch Hotline on 1800 065 522 or via the SA Fishing app,” she said.

    In the control area you cannot fish from shore or boat, anchor for the purposes of fishing activities, use commercial fishing or abalone equipment, use hoop nets, bait traps, hauling nets or abalone levers for recreational fishing or collect any abalone, rock lobsters, sea urchins or other aquatic invertebrates, whether live or dead.

    AVG is caused by a mollusc herpes virus that only infects abalone, affecting the nervous system, causing weakness and eventually death.

    It has the potential to severely impact local abalone stocks and reef ecosystems.

    PIRSA also reminded fishers that abalone could not be used for bait or berley in South Australian waters.

    The department said it would continue to update industry, recreational fishers and the general public. For more information visit pir.sa.gov.au/avg

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