Port River POMS outbreak in feral oysters

In February 2018, routine research aimed at improving early detection of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) virus, uncovered an outbreak of POMS in feral Pacific Oysters in the Port River. The virus is now endemic in the Port River, with ongoing detection throughout 2018 and 2019. The most recent detection was in January 2020.

To date, the POMS virus has not been detected in South Australian commercial oyster farming areas, with ‘proof of freedom’ declared on Friday 6 April 2018. The nearest commercial growing area is approximately 60 km away.

Reducing the risk of POMS spreading

To reduce the risk of POMS spreading, PIRSA has implemented a ban on the removal of all bivalve organisms (oysters, mussels, cockles, razorfish) from the Port River system. This ban will remain in place until 13 December 2020, but may be extended. Bivalves should not be taken from the Port River area for any purpose, including bait or berley. See closure map (PDF 244.4 KB)

In addition to the ban, testing and monitoring of the feral oyster population and POMS outbreak in the Port River remains in place and PIRSA is working closely with the oyster industry on statewide early detection disease surveillance. Strategic knockdowns of feral oysters both in the Port River and in regional areas have also been occurring, noting that total eradication in the Port River is not achievable.

See Frequently asked questions about the Port River POMS outbreak (PDF 426.1 KB)

What you can do to help

Fishers and boat owners can help prevent the spread of POMS by ensuring they follow these steps before their vessels leave the Port River for other areas of the State:

  • Ensure vessel hulls are clean and remove plants and animals from fishing and boating equipment and clothing so you don’t transfer pests and diseases to other waterways. Boat owners should refer to the guidelines for good vessel cleaning practices
  • Where possible, wash boats and equipment with light household detergent, rinse with tap water without letting the water drain into waterways, and importantly dry completely before moving to another waterway. Download POMS Decontamination fact sheet (PDF 115.7 KB).
  • Adhere to the ban on removing bivalve shellfish from the Port River system from West Lakes to Port Gawler, including Section Bank. Bivalve shellfish such as oysters, mussels, cockles, and razorfish should not be taken from the Port River area for any purpose, including bait or berley.  See closure information
  • Never use seafood sold for human consumption (including imported seafood) as bait or berley.

More information


POMS is a notifiable disease and must be immediately reported.

Report suspicion of POMS to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522.

Page Last Reviewed: 04 Dec 2019
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