Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) is a disease which affects Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and is caused by a virus called OsHV-1 micro variant. It causes rapid death and high mortality rates in farmed Pacific Oysters (up to 100% within days of being detected) and can spread quickly if introduced.
The first Australian case of POMS was recorded in 2010 in New South Wales, with the most recent outbreak in commercially-grown oysters detected in Tasmania in 2016.
Since the NSW outbreak, general restrictions on importing oysters into SA have been in place to prevent disease introduction and safeguard South Australia’s $32 million oyster growing industry. See the moving aquatic organisms page for more information.
There are no human health implications associated with POMS, which only affects the Pacific Oyster. South Australia produces some of the finest Pacific oysters on the market and table oysters purchased from retailers, restaurants and fish processors are safe to eat.
What you can do to help
You can play a vital role in protecting South Australia’s oyster industry and the regional businesses and employment that depend on it.
If you are travelling into or through South Australia, you can help protect our oyster farming areas to remain disease free by following these steps:
- Regardless of the point of purchase, check the origin of any oysters you are carrying.
- Dispose of any Tasmanian-sourced live oysters into landfill or at quarantine stations across SA.
- Never discard or store live oysters in any SA waters. It is an offence under the Fisheries Management Act 2007 to release or deposit exotic and/or aquaculture farmed species (such as Pacific Oysters) into the waters of South Australia and fines may apply.
- Do not use Pacific oysters, even when dead, as bait or berley.
- Never use seafood sold for human consumption as bait or berley.
- Boat owners should refer to the guidelines for good vessel cleaning practices.
If you are travelling into or through South Australia read the POMS fact sheet ().
PIRSA’s Biosecurity SA officers at quarantine stations at Yamba, Oodla Wirra, Pinnaroo and Ceduna also check for oysters while inspecting vehicles for fruit, vegetables, plants and plant related products as part of our regular efforts against fruit fly and other pests and diseases.
For oyster farmers: detecting and reporting the disease
Report unexplained oyster mortality of greater than 10% at grading, and particularly during warmer months with sea temperatures above 17 degrees, to PIRSA.
Take the following steps to report the disease:
- Collect at least 30 live oysters from the mortality site.
- Collect another 30 samples from another batch where there are no unusual mortalities occurring, if possible.
- Calculate the percentage of oysters that have died.
- Bag, label, and place fresh samples on ice. Do not freeze.
- Courier samples to lab within 24 hours of collecting them.
- Report to Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) using the contact details below.
- Report to your Bay Representative or the South Australian Oyster Growers Association.
- Decontaminate personnel and equipment with chlorine-based disinfectant.
POMS is a notifiable disease and must be immediately reported.
Report suspicion of POMS to Fishwatch: 1800 065 522