Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS)

​​​Movement Permit Application Form​

Permit application can be downloaded from this link: Movement Permit Application. Hard copies of the form can be arranged by calling 6165 4825.

A permit will generally cover the authorised movement of oysters over a 30 day period. As it is anticipated that demand for assessment of proposed oyster translocations will increase significantly over coming days, permit applications should be forwarded to Biosecurity Tasmania as soon as possible. Note that there is a five (5) working day maximum turnaround on permits. Usually permits are issued well within this period, however this is dependent on demand.​

 

​​​Current Situation

4 April 2016

Additional government support for oysters growers affected by POMS has been made available. For more information see Government Assistance for Oyster Growers.


18 March 2016

A greater range of movements of oysters onto oyster farms is now allowed in Tasmania as the result of a detailed testing regime.

Since the end of January this year, Biosecurity Tasmania and the Tasmanian oyster industry have been responding to an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome, also known as POMS. 

This response has included restrictions on the movement of oysters onto oyster farms while a structured testing program has been underway to determine where the virus is present in the State. This testing program has been completed and it is now possible to assess oyster movements that can occur between farms without spreading the virus.

Based on the information from the POMS testing program three (3) areas of differing disease risk have been determined as a basis for issuing movement permits. These areas are:

  • POMS free area across the north of Tasmania;
  • intermediate risk areas where there is little or no evidence of disease, but a risk of introduction of the disease; and
  • an infected area where POMS is known to occur.

The list of three (3) areas of differing disease risk is available below.

Movements will be allowed under permit; both within a risk area and into another area where there is a higher risk.  Movements will not be allowed from an area of high risk to an area with a lower level of risk. 

A permit is required to be able to move oysters from one oyster growing area to be placed on a farm in another area.  Details of how to apply for a permit here on the DPIPWE web site​. ​

Experience in other countries and other states indicates that the major cause of rapid spread of the POMS virus is by movement of oysters between oyster farms.  The movement controls still in place are designed to reduce the risk of this type of spread of the virus. 

As the virus is now established in Tasmania we do have to expect some natural spread to other areas, however, controlling movement of oysters should help slow the overall spread of the virus and give some much needed time for the industry to be able to establish long term strategies to manage this disease.

Options for long term management include work already being undertaken by the industry to develop strains of oysters resistant to the disease. 

DPIPWE will be working with the industry to assist the industry recover from this disease event and develop options for future management of oysters in an environment where POMS occurs.

The POMS virus was first detected in Tasmania when it caused a high level of mortalities at an oyster lease in late January this year - however from tests on frozen oysters indicated that the virus has been present in the State since at least mid-December 2015.

In the past, statewide surveys have been conducted to see if the POMS virus was present in Tasmania.  The last of these surveys was completed in March 2015, and no POMS virus was detected, indicating that the virus arrived in Tasmania sometime between March and December last year.

It is important to note that oysters harvested for human consumption that are not going to be placed on another oyster farm can be moved without a permit.

POMS does not affect human health and oysters on the market are safe to eat.


POMS Free areas ​

This is all areas of Tasmania north of a line through Launceston
  • Sea Elephant Bay (King Island)
  • Montague
  • Duck Bay
  • Big Bay
  • Port Sorell
  • Moulting Bay (George’s Bay)

Intermediate areas

This is the Huon-Channel area, Norfolk Bay and Great Oyster Bay​
  • Great Oyster Bay
  • Great Swanport
  • King George Sound
  • Eaglehawk Bay
  • Garfish Bay
  • Little Norfolk Bay
  • Port Arthur
  • Fleurtys Point
  • Great Bay
  • Long Bay Reef
  • Little Taylors Bay
  • Cloudy Bay Lagoon
  • Deep Bay
  • Gardners Bay
  • Port Esperance
  • Hastings Bay
  • Recherche Bay

Infected areas

  • Little Swanport
  • Blackman Bay
  • Dunalley Bay
  • Pitt Water
  • Island Inlet
  • Pipe Clay Lagoon


29 February 2016 (as at 1600 hrs [4pm])

There are currently six (6) marine growing areas now regarded as POMS infected 
  • Upper Pitt Water
  • Lower Pitt Water
  • Pipe Clay Lagoon
  • Blackman Bay
  • Little Swanport 
  • Derwent Estuary.
There are four (4) marine growing areas suspected of being POMS infected: 
  • Great Bay (Bruny Island)
  • Great Oyster Bay
  • Gardners Bay 
  • Dunalley Bay.
Dunalley Bay has been reclassified as a suspect area, rather than POMS infected as only one set of positive results have been recorded in Dunalley Bay and there is no evidence of increased oyster mortalities.

Ongoing testing has confirmed POMS at one on-shore hatchery which was suspected because of its location in an already confirmed POMS affected area. Other hatcheries will be tested as part of the structured surveillance to determine POMS test free areas. This will determine which areas each hatchery can supply with spat.

Biosecurity Tasmania’s current response is aimed at restricting the further spread of the virus while its geographic distribution is mapped and an industry management plan is being developed.

The structured program of surveillance will take a number of weeks to complete and will be dependent on tides and weather. The purpose of the structured testing program is to establish which areas are currently free of the POMS virus. 

It is not clear when the POMS virus was introduced into Tasmania. Surveillance testing in March 2015 did not find any evidence of POMS virus in the state. Tests on frozen samples collected for another purpose in late December 2015 have given some positive PCR results, indicating that the POMS virus was present in Tasmania before the first case was detected this year.​​

24 February 2016 (as at 0930 hrs [9.30am])

Currently there are no further confirmed POMS infected marine growing areas. The ongoing testing program has however confirmed POMS at one hatchery which was suspected because of its location in an already confirmed POMS affected area.

A total of three (3) marine growing areas are suspected of being POMS infected: 
  • Great Bay on Bruny Island
  • Great Oyster Bay 
  • Gardners Bay
Great Oyster Bay has been identified as a suspect location after the virus was confirmed in an archival sample collected prior to recent mortality event. At this stage there are no reports of oyster mortalities in the Great Oyster Bay area. 

Further samples have been collected from the area this week for testing to further investigate this result.

The POMS in Tasmania Frequently Asked Questions page.​has neen updated with new information.


17 February 2016 (as at 1600 hrs [4pm])​

Further testing of samples taken from a wild oyster population in the Derwent estuary has confirmed the presence of POMS infection.

Areas now regarded as POMS infected are:
  • Pitt Water (Upper Pitt Water)
  • Island Inlet (Lower Pitt Water)
  • Pipe Clay Lagoon
  • Blackman Bay
  • Dunalley Bay
  • Little Swanport
  • Derwent Estuary 
Area suspected of being POMS infected:
  • Great Bay (Bruny Island) 
Further samples from Great Bay have tested negative on PCR.  The area will remain under close surveillance. 

Areas of freedom from POMS

In order to determine areas believed to be free of the virus, a structured program of testing of oyster samples will commence on Monday 22 February.
Hatcheries will also be tested to determine their status.  This will determine which areas each hatchery can supply with spat.


​​
15 February 2016 (as at 1500 hrs [3pm])​​
Positive results have been received from samples taken from a wild oyster population in the Derwent estuary. Further testing is being conducted to confirm the POMS infection.

 
Area suspected of being POMS infected (to be reviewed with further testing):
  • Great Bay (Bruny Island)
  • Derwent Estuary


12 February 2016 (as at 1600 hrs [4pm])​

Positive PCR results have been received from oysters collected from Little Swanport on 11 February 2016.  

 
Areas now regarded as POMS infected:
  • Pitt Water (Upper Pitt Water)
  • Island Inlet (Lower Pitt Water)
  • Pipe Clay Lagoon
  • Blackman Bay
  • Dunalley Bay
  • Little Swanport
Area suspected of being POMS infected (to be reviewed with further testing):
  • Great Bay (Bruny Island)

 

Testing for Freedom from POMS

Plans are being developed to test areas believed to be free to demonstrate that no virus is present.  While there are some negative test results from these areas, this is not enough to demonstrate freedom or to support movement of oysters between these areas.  Testing for freedom will not commence until three incubation periods, or approximately 20 days, after the introduction of the standstill on movement of oysters.  This delay is to ensure that if the virus has been introduced into these areas we are likely to detect it on testing, which will include inspection of oysters and sampling for laboratory testing.​

10 February 2016 (as at 1600 hrs [4pm])​

Positive PCR results have been received from oysters collected from Great Bay (Bruny Island) on 5 February 2016.  
There is currently no reported increase in mortalities on the test positive lease in Great Bay and further samples are being collected for further testing. 

 
Areas now regarded as POMS infected:
  • Pitt Water (Upper Pitt Water)
  • Island Inlet (Lower Pitt Water)
  • Pipe Clay Lagoon
  • Blackman Bay
  • Dunalley Bay
Area suspected of being POMS infected (to be reviewed with further testing):
  • Great Bay (Bruny Island) ​​

10 February 2016

Following confirmation of a positive test result, POMS has now been confirmed in Dunalley Bay, Dunalley, in S.E. Tasmania.

Areas now regarded as POMS infected are:

  • Upper Pitt Water
  • Island Inlet (also known as Lower Pitt Water)
  • Pipe Clay Lagoon
  • Blackman Bay
  • Dunalley Bay

​9 February 2016

The presence of POMS has been confirmed in Blackman Bay (to the east of Dunalley, in S.E. Tasmania). High levels of mortality have been reported at a site in the bay and laboratory testing has demonstrated the presence of the virus.

Areas now regarded as POMS infected are:

•           Upper Pitt Water

•           Island Inlet (also known as Lower Pitt Water)

•           Pipe Clay Lagoon

•           Blackman Bay

A Control Area for management of POMS​ has been declared for the whole State. This prohibits the movement of live oysters and associated equipment between growing areas. Movements for human consumption and testing are exempted. A voluntary industry standstill has been in place leading up to the restrictions coming into operation.

Affected growers are advised to leave oysters in the water if possible to reduce stress which will increase losses associated with POMS infection. Harvested oysters that are found to be affected must be disposed of in a biosecure manner.

Surveillance activity and laboratory testing will continue to focus on determining the distribution of the disease. Movements from the known infected areas are being traced to help prioritise testing and surveillance of other growing areas in Tasmania.

South Australia and NSW continue to maintain a ban on importation of seed-stock from Tasmania.


4 February 2016

Testing has confirmed POMS at a site in Pipe Clay Lagoon. Oysters at this site had been transferred from the site at Pitt Water only the day before the mortality event was first reported and so had been part of the tracing process being undertaken following the detection of POMS. Ongoing sampling is being undertaken as part of identifying the distributions of the viral disease.​


2 February 2016

Biosecurity Tasmania and Oysters Tasmania are investigating an oyster mortality at a Pitt Water growers lease which has been linked to Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome.

Chief Veterinary Officer Rod Andrewartha said the grower, working with Oysters Tasmania and Biosecurity Tasmania, acted quickly after an above average mortality detection at the lease last week and enacted measures to identify the cause and minimise industry impacts.

Testing at Biosecurity Tasmania laboratories has identified Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome as the cause of the event at this growers lease.

Although this virus is not a threat to public health, it does have a severe impact on oysters so Biosecurity Tasmania is working closely with the grower and industry to identify its distribution and put in place measures to minimise its further movement.

Surveillance is currently being undertaken at other leases and Biosecurity Tasmania will also continue to investigate how this virus occurred.

POMS was first seen in Australia in NSW in 2010. Since then movement restrictions have been in place on oysters, oyster products to reduce the risk of spread to other areas. Whilst the disease is a concern for oyster producers, healthy oysters can still be harvested and product being sold through retail outlets remains safe to eat.

While there are no restrictions on harvesting oysters for human consumption in relation to POMS, currently there are industry imposed restrictions on movement of oysters for stocking on to farms. NSW and South Australia have also taken the precautionary step of placing a ban on importation of seed stock from Tasmania for the time being.


 

POMS - Control Area Declaration (9 February 2016)

A Control Area has been declared for the whole of Tasmania under the Animal Health Act 1995 restricting the movement of oysters and animal materials and conveyances used in the production of oysters.

More information on the Control Area​ Declaration and copies of the formal Declarations​.


Reporting of mortalities in aquatic animals

Any unexplained and significant mortality of oysters (greater than 5 percent) should be reported to:

Biosecurity Tasmania
1 Franklin Wharf
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone Office Hours: 03 6165 3085

Phone after office hours: 1800 675 888

Email: POMSTas@dpipwe.tas.gov.au​​