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Closure of Fishery: DNA Tests in Tasmania

by Ellen Hardy
15 September 2008, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - Chief Veterinary Office Rod Andrewartha says it is too early to start drawing conclusions on the nature of the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) presence in Tasmania.

However, DNA test results received today have prompted the closure of a section of the seabed off southern Tasmania to commercial and recreational abalone harvesting.

Dr Andrewartha said that the current situation is:

  • Three abalone at a southern processing facility returned strong positive results to DNA-testing for the virus, one of which also exhibited obvious signs of the disease;

  • A positive result from the DNA-test now has been returned from one of 83 wild abalone samples taken from an area of interest off the southern Channel. No obvious signs of the disease are evident in the area or in tissue samples.

He said that significant numbers of samples from wild abalone are being processed according to a priority sampling list.

“I will need to see a diversity of results, coupled with field observations, before drawing conclusions,” Dr Andrewartha said.

“All that can be said is that the first batch of DNA-based testing on wild abalone indicates that one of these fish had been exposed to the virus in its natural habitat.”

In accordance with a planned response framework, the area will be closed to commercial and recreational fishers as a precautionary measure, effective from midnight tonight.

The relevant areas are blocks 14A, 14B, 14C and 14D which total 299 sq km of sea bed. The area is the D’Entrecasteaux Channel extending approximately between Port Esperance and Southport.

“The biosecurity precautions already announced for the commercial fishery also remain in place. These include processing abalone within the region they are caught and landed unless otherwise authorised, decontamination procedures for commercial divers moving between regions and a 24-hour break between diving in different regions.

“These disease control measures make sense regardless of whether we are dealing with either a new incursion or whether the virus is endemic here in some parts of the State but not in others.”

He said that no reports are being received that morbidity or mortality among Tasmania’s wild abalone is varying from the usual historic pattern.

“Various test results will come in throughout the remainder of this week and the weeks ahead, including many more wild samples and also samples taken from a range of processors.

“This will help build up a body of knowledge. Until then, all scenarios remain open.”

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy