Bay fishing lockdown

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Bay fishing lockdown

Fishing restrictions are in place as Abalone viral ganglioneuritis (AVG) has been confirmed in wild abalone in waters south of Port MacDonnell.

It is the first time the disease has been found in South Australia.

A commercial abalone fisher reported dead and dying abalone at Breaksea Reef off Port MacDonnell on Wednesday and submitted samples to the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA) for testing.

The PCR tests confirmed AVG in the samples, leading PIRSA to activate a response team and put in place measures to contain the spread of disease, with commercial and recreational industries 

A control area has been declared in the Port MacDonnell area within the state’s Southern Abalone Zone.

The control area spans the coastline from Nene Valley in the west to the South Australian-Victorian border in the east and reaches five nautical miles (approximately 10km) out to sea.

This control area has been put in place to stop the possible spread of the disease to abalone in other areas currently not affected.

These measures will remain in place until surveillance activities inform next steps including a review of these restrictions.

AVG has no known effects on human health.

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

Collect any abalone, rock lobsters, sea urchins or other aquatic invertebrates, whether live or dead.

South Australia’s Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Elise Spark said it is 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.

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

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

To help reduce the spread of AVG disease, South Australians statewide are encouraged to:

Check: all vessels, fishing, diving and surfing equipment and remove anything including, water, sand or seaweed.

Check your catch for signs of illness.

Clean: boats at home or at a commercial car wash.

Wash your wetsuits, fishing and diving equipment with fresh, soapy water.

Dry: all boating, fishing and diving equipment completely before heading out into the water 

You must not dispose of any abalone shell or gut into the ocean.

Dispose of abalone shell, meat and gut in household rubbish.

PIRSA also reminds fishers that abalone cannot be used for bait or berley in South Australian waters.

PIRSA will continue to update industry, recreational fishers and the general public.

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