Restrictions change for abalone disease as surveillance continues

25 May 2021

A change to restrictions will come into place for control areas in the state’s south west, following recent detections of Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) in wild abalone.

Line fishing without a sinker attached will now be allowed in Control Areas. This change was made as surveillance activities continue to determine the extent of disease spread.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Graeme Cooke said that recent dive surveys, testing and analysis showed that the risk of spreading the disease by line fishing without sinker was very low.

“All other restrictions remain in place for the Control Area. The following activities are not allowed: fishing with a sinker attached, collecting abalone or shellfish, diving or snorkelling, using commercial, abalone or recreational fishing equipment, other than unweighted line fishing, or anchoring boats within the area,” he said.

A new Control Area is now in place at Cape Bridgewater after new detections of infected abalone outside the existing area at the weekend, expanding the previous territory further west. Restrictions now span from Lower Cape Bridgewater in the west around to Narrawong in the east.

There have also been recent positive detections at Murrell’s and Jones Bay reefs well within the original Control Area.

Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer said further detections were not unexpected as they work to understand the presence of the disease, and it shows the effectiveness of dive surveys.

“We are aware that restrictions have been disruptive, but they are crucial while we work to understand the extent of Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) in the state’s south-west area.

“Thank you to everyone in the community, fishers and industry who are supporting this response and doing the right thing and following the restrictions.”

The Chief Veterinary Officer extends Control Orders for seven days at a time, and Orders will be continued to be reviewed and renewed as required. These shorter Orders give Agriculture Victoria and the Victorian Fisheries Authority flexibility to make updates and scale back restrictions when appropriate, as authorities continuously review the situation and risk. Restrictions are expected to remain in place for some months to varying degrees.

Surveillance will continue both east and west, as weather permits. The Control Order will remain in place while this important work continues.

The fishing and boating community is reminded to continue to practice good hygiene when out in the water, including washing all vessels, fishing equipment and wetsuits.

Agriculture Victoria is aware that abalone disease has been detected in abalone kept in tanks at a number of metropolitan Sydney premises. Preliminary testing has identified that the virus is the same variant as identified in Victoria in the previous and current outbreaks.

“Agriculture Victoria and the Victorian Fisheries Authority are working closely with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. At present, there is no clear link to Victoria apart from the viral testing results,” he said.

A public meeting will be held at Portland Civic Hall Tuesday 25 May, to provide a situation update and facilitate a Q&A session, all welcome. Please register on Eventbrite.

For more information and the latest restrictions, visit the Agriculture Victoria website or call 136 186.

Media contact: Nicole Cairns, 0436 675 030