The Australian Pacific Oyster industry is facing unprecedented threats from disease that cause significant mortality to stock and risks the financial sustainability of the whole industry. Other industries in France, Ireland, New Zealand and closer to home in estuaries in New South Wales (Georges River, Botany Bay, Port Jackson, Parramatta River and the Hawkesbury River) have been impacted significantly by the Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS).
Survival rates have been as low as 1% through to 40% of stock affected by POMS. Many businesses have left these industries not able to survive the dramatic impact this has on their financial capacity to remain in operation.
Breeding for resistance has been identified by all those industries impacted as the only practical solution to remaining viable. Australian Seafood Industries Pty Ltd (ASI) is Australia’s best option for dealing with this threat, and the future risks that disease and a changing climate present.
Applied breeding also presents a significant opportunity for the industry, just as it has in agriculture with plant and animal
breeding programs offering gains that improved the economical sustainability of these industries.
“With recent modifications and improvements, the Australian Seafood Industry (ASI) now operates a technically well-designed and effective family based selective breeding program for Pacific Oyster, expected to produce significant genetic improvements for traits of key importance to the Pacific Oysters sector. The program structure is flexible and can also facilitate effective selection for improved resistance to diseases (e.g. POMS).”
Dr. Morten Rye, Akvaforsk Genetics Center A/S Norway, October 2012
WHAT IS POMS?
Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) is referred to Pacific oyster specific mortalities associated with the virus Ostreid herpesvirus-1 microvariant (OsHV-1 μVar) in Australia. The virus has brought high mortality in areas such as Europe, New Zealand and Australia (New South Wales and Tasmania). The disease affects all ages but higher mortalities have been observed in spat and juvenile oysters. There is no evidence to suggest that POM can affect humans. The virus has been reported to affect Pacific oysters and cannot be transmitted to humans. For more information, please visit the FRDC POMS fact sheet.