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Tasmanian Troubles End: Abalone Restrictions Ease

by 5m Editor
6 November 2008, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - Restrictions introduced in September for the control of Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) will be eased from today says the Tasmanian Government.

The restrictions on the movement of abalone in all areas of the State, other than a Restricted Area in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and a small buffer area around it, are now lifted.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rod Andrewartha, said that four restrictions will continue to apply:

  • The ban on all abalone fishing in the Restricted Area (comprising blocks 14A, 14B, 14C, and 14D, all in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel) continues:
  • Any abalone taken commercially from block 14E or 15 may only be taken to processors in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel area.
  • The long-standing restrictions on importing abalone into Tasmania remain in force;
  • The ban on using abalone guts as bait continues.

During the emergency disease response, various measures were put in place.

“Some were imposed when the disease was first discovered at a processing facility near Hobart in early September. Further restrictions were imposed a week later when there was a positive result to DNA-testing for the virus from one abalone sample taken from block 14B near Southport,” Dr Andrewartha said.

The emergency response has involved an extensive surveillance program, including diver observation of the health of abalone over a wide area and the laboratory testing of more than 1600 samples from the wild.

“There has been no evidence of active disease in Tasmania’s wild abalone population and only the one positive DNA test. This is a good outcome.

“As a consequence, it is now appropriate to lift the emergency restrictions from most areas of the State.

“It is important to stress that the presence of the AVG virus cannot be ruled out. The results so far indicate that if disease is present it is at a very low level, below the level our surveillance can detect,” Dr Andrewartha said.

Even though most of the emergency restrictions have now been lifted, DPIW will continue to work with the abalone sector on biosecurity in the industry to help reduce the risk of AVG and other diseases.

DPIW’s Animal Health Laboratory at Mt Pleasant in Launceston is working on an inoculation trial to determine the true status of the single DNA-positive abalone. The ban on abalone fishing in the D’Entrecasteaux Channel blocks will stay at least until the inoculation trial is completed.

“At this stage, we cannot be certain where the AVG found in the processor came from.

“All we can say at this stage is that there is no evidence of widespread disease or virus in the Tasmanian abalone population, and no evidence that the disease at the processing facility came from Victoria,” he said.

Further Reading

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

5m Editor