10 Sep 2008

Abalone fishery threatened by virus

1:13 pm on 10 September 2008

The world's largest wild abalone fishery, off the south-east coast of Tasmania, is under threat from a deadly virus.

The $A1 billion fishery is awaiting test results for Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis.

A seafood processor in south Tasmania raised the alarm after recently discovering a number of suspect abalone showing signs of the virus.

Tasmania's chief veterinary officer Dr Rod Andrewartha said the factory is being carefully monitored and is now subject to some abalone movement restrictions.

He said AVG is a potentially serious disease of abalone. It does not affect humans. Urgent work is underway to confirm the diagnosis.

Samples of the diseased tissue have been sent to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong for analysis.

Tasmania's wild abalone fishery is the largest in the world, providing about 25% of the world's annual commercial harvest.