More surveillance for oyster parasite

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By Milthon Lujan

New Zealand.- Further surveillance of the wild flat oyster fishery in Foveaux Strait for Bonamia ostreae will begin later this month.

Sampling will start in the last week of September as part of an enhanced national surveillance plan for the invasive parasite, says Ministry for Primary Industries Response Manager David Yard.

Under the plan, MPI will survey the Foveaux Strait flat oysters every 3 months. Sampling and testing of wild oysters in the strait was previously carried out every 6 months. MPI is also conducting monthly surveillance of remaining flat oyster farms on Stewart Island.

“Our aim is to detect infections as early as possible, so we can move quickly to introduce further measures as required to prevent spread of the parasite,” says Mr Yard.

“MPI is committed to doing all it can to stop Bonamia ostreae from spreading to the wild flat oyster populations.”

Mr Yard says the September surveillance round will also include wild flat oyster fisheries throughout the current protected and contained zones in the South Island, including areas in Stewart Island that haven’t been surveyed before.

“We’ve worked closely with local people to identify sampling locations where the wild oysters are most densely grouped. These areas have the highest risk of infection.”

The sampling is likely to take around 3 weeks. It is intended the final results will be available by late October.

Samples of wild oysters from Foveaux Strait and other South Island fisheries have tested negative for Bonamia ostreae in previous surveys. The Foveaux Strait fishery was last surveyed in June.

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Bonamia ostreae can be fatal for flat oysters. It has been in New Zealand since at least 2015, when it was detected in the Marlborough Sounds and Nelson.

It was discovered in Stewart Island waters in May, resulting in MPI’s decision to remove all farmed flat oysters in Big Glory Bay and Marlborough to prevent further spread.

MPI and Stewart Island farmers completed the removal of oyster lines from Big Glory Bay on 6 September, nearly a month ahead of schedule. MPI expects removal operations in Marlborough to finish in October.

– Find out more about the parasite 

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