Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis

What is AVG?

  • AVG is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of abalone.
  • Mortality rates have been high in Victorian wild stocks, but have not occurred in Tasmanian wild stocks.
  • It affects both blacklip and greenlip abalone and hybrids of the two.
  • AVG has no known effects on human health.
  • The first reported case of AVG in Australia was detected in waters off the Victorian coast in 2006. A similar disease occurs in several overseas countries.

What does AVG look like?

recognising the signs of AVG
  • Abalone with protruding mouth parts; and / or
  • Abalone with the edges of the foot curling inwards, exposing clean shiny shells; and / or
  • Abalone showing signs of stiffness or rigour in the wild, failing to right themselves if inverted.
  • In the wild populations, the presence of fresh clean shells or shell with meat still in could indicate recent mortalities.
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In 2008, the four diseased abalone found at the processing plant were characterised by 'hard fish', with the abalone appearing to go into rigid spasms.

How does AVG spread?

The virus can spread from abalone to abalone through physical contact or sharing water with other abalone. It can also be spread to healthy abalone by offal, mucus, shells, contaminated fishing equipment or people who have been handling abalone. The mucus from abalone is thought to be the main vector in which the disease can spread.

The virus is thought to only survive a short time unprotected in the water column or out of water.

Why is AVG a significant risk to Tasmania?

Tasmania's wild abalone fishery is the biggest in the world, with around 25% of the world annual harvest. It also supports a very active recreational fishery, involving around 12,500 people. Apart from the environmental consequences, an outbreak of AVG in Tasmania could also have a major impact on the economy and on recreational opportunities.

What can you do to help prevent AVG?

The virus only survives a short time in the water so the most likely method of disease spread is through direct contact between infected abalone (including offal, mucus, shells, contaminated fishing equipment or people) and healthy abalone.
  • Keep a close watch for signs of the disease and report any signs to the DPIPWE Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888 (24-hours) even if you are not sure.
  • Do not move abalone between locations, including shells and offal. Take your whole catch home (it is illegal to shuck abalone at sea) and dispose of the waste and shell with your household rubbish. It is illegal to use abalone viscera as fishing bait.
  • Keep your fishing gear, dive gear and boat clean and disinfected with detergent. This includes catch bags, gloves, knives, measuring devices, wetsuits, buoyancy vests, masks, regulators, tanks, boats and people who have come into contact with abalone. By thoroughly cleaning all fishing equipment and allowing it to dry in the sun you can prevent the spread of many aquatic diseases and marine pests, including AVG. Please refer to, and use, the AVG Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols.

See also:

Recreational Abalone Fishing
Commercial Abalone Fishery

Contacts

To report any signs of AVG, phone the DPIPWE Disease Watch Hotline (24hrs) phone: 1800 675 888

For general information
Recreational fishers - contact the Recreational Sea Fishing Line on (03) 6165 3233
Commercial fishers - contact Travis Baulch on 6165 3029

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