Abalone disease

Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG), also known as abalone disease, is a viral disease which affects the nervous system of abalone and results in curling of the foot, swelling of the mouth, leading to weakness and death of abalone.

AVG has no known effects on human health.

Coronavirus update

Keep up to date with all the latest circuit breaker restrictions and requirements at coronavirus.vic.gov.au.

Update – 1 June

A Control Area was declared on 4 May following the detection of AVG near Cape Nelson. Agriculture Victoria is continuing its testing and assessments and is working closely with the Victorian Fisheries Authority to respond to this detection.

Surveillance results will shape an understanding of the extent of disease spread, with ongoing dive surveys taking place across many reef areas in the Control Area.

On 23 May, the Control Area was extended west following further detections. The new Control Area now spans from past Lower Cape Bridgewater in the west to past Narrawong in the east between two and 10 kilometres offshore.

The disease has also been confirmed from samples from the reefs at Murrells and Jones Bay west of Portland, well within the original Control Area.

On 23 May the Control Area was amended to allow line fishing without sinker attached. All other restrictions remain in place for the Control Area.

The Control Order for the Control Area prohibits the:

  • taking of abalone and other shellfish
  • use of weighted commercial fishing equipment, commercial abalone equipment, recreation hoop nets, bait traps, hauling nets
  • practice of both commercial and recreational diving for abalone
  • taking of rock lobster, all shellfish, sea urchins and any of the substrate or sea floor and
  • movement of any abalone or shellfish out of the control area unless the movement is in accordance with a permit issued by an inspector.

Boats, vessels and fishing equipment cannot be anchored in the Control Area. However, a vessel can move through the area provided it does not stop. Line fishing from the breakwater is permitted provided anglers are standing on the breakwater.

Activities such as swimming, surfing, paddle boarding and walking along the shore/rocks are allowed. Snorkelling and diving is not allowed.

Special arrangements are in place for boats required to anchor in the Portland anchorage area.

Control Area has been expanded west, and now spans from Lower Bridgewater Bay in the east to Narrawong in the west, and is varied offshore between two and 10 kilometres.

Control Area orders

Fisheries Notice

Victorian Fisheries Authority Fisheries (Abalone Disease Closure) Notice 2021

Interstate information

For the latest information, from New South Wales, visit the DPI NSW website.

For the latest information from South Australia including restrictions on abalone movements, visit the PIRSA website

For an overview of the national situation, visit the Outbreak website.

FAQs

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Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG), known as abalone disease, is a viral disease which affects the nervous system of abalone and results in curling of the foot, swelling of the mouth, leading to weakness and death of abalone.

The disease has no known effect on human health.

The disease was confirmed in the Cape Nelson area on 2 May 2021. Since then, further detections have been made at several locations well within the Control Area.

The Control Area is in place to stop the possible transfer of the disease by human activities to abalone in other Victorian waters that are currently not affected. This is a temporary measure until surveillance activities provide more information to inform further decision-making.

The Chief Veterinary Officer extends Control Orders for seven days at a time, and Orders will continue 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.

No, you cannot dive or snorkel within the Control Area (commercially or recreationally).

No, you cannot collect abalone, rock lobsters, sea urchins and other aquatic invertebrates (dead or alive) from the Control Area.

Yes, as long as you don’t anchor or use any fishing equipment that will touch the bottom of the ocean. Unweighted lines are the only fishing equipment you can use in the Control Area. Use of weighted commercial fishing equipment, commercial abalone equipment, recreation hoop nets, bait traps, hauling nets within the Control Area is prohibited.

Yes, you can drive/drift your boat/vessel through the Control Area provided your boat does not anchor within the Control Area. Boats must be cleaned when you get home.

No, boats, vessels and fishing equipment cannot be anchored or touch the ocean floor in the Control Area.

  • All decks, equipment and superstructures should be cleaned by scrubbing or with high-pressure sprayers. Using a detergent in this process is recommended.
  • All external areas must be rinsed with fresh water.
  • Decks, diving equipment and other equipment should be hosed down with fresh water, washed with disinfectant, rinsed immediately with fresh water and left to air dry after each trip.
  • Always clean your boat when taken out of the water regardless of whether returning to the Control Area or to different waters.

Yes, line fishing from the breakwater is permitted provided anglers are standing on the breakwater. To help stop the spread, please wash all your fishing equipment in fresh soapy water when you have finished. This is especially important if you intend to use this equipment in other parts of the state.

Yes. Activities such as swimming, surfing, paddle boarding and walking along the shore/rocks are allowed. However, snorkelling and diving is not allowed within the Control Area. To help stop the spread, please wash all your gear in fresh soapy water when you have finished. This is especially important if you intend to use this equipment in other parts of the state.

Yes. However, you cannot collect abalone (even dead shell), other aquatic animals or rocks in accordance with the Control Order.

Apply for a permit

The Control Area order allows for movements of vessels launched from the Port of Portland through the Control Area (CA) without the need for a permit. No activities such as fishing or diving are allowed from these vessels within the Control Area.

Recreational or commercial fishing activities will not be allowed in the Control Area and no permits will be issued for these activities.

Permits may be issued for activities relating to the maintenance of infrastructure located in the CA and other priority activities within the CA.

Fishing from the breakwater is permitted.

If you have trouble accessing the application form, please call the Customer Contact Centre on 136 186.

Permits will be issued from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday.

Apply for a permit

Incidence and spread

The disease, which is caused by a herpesvirus, was first detected in Victoria in December 2005. The last recorded instance of disease in Victoria was in January 2010 at Cape Otway.

The disease has been confirmed in Victoria as far east as Cape Otway and as far west as the Discovery Bay Marine Park.

It can spread through the water from infected abalone or abalone product (offal, shells or mucus), fishing equipment (including wetsuits, anchors, rock lobster pots and ropes) and via people who have come into contact with infected abalone.

The disease can cause high mortalities in both farmed and wild abalone populations. To date, species known to be susceptible to AVG in Australia are greenlip abalone (Haliotis laevigata),blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) and hybrids of these two species.

AVG is a notifiable disease. If any divers suspect AVG in abalone, please report it immediately to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Symptoms of AVG

In wild abalone in Victoria, there may be high mortality; usually only shells are present, as a result of predation on affected abalone.

In farmed abalone, signs include:

  • swollen mouth parts, occasionally with the mouth protruding from under the anterior foot (where it is usually only partially visible)
  • reduced pedal adhesion to surfaces
  • absence of marked foot extension seen in the righting reflex of healthy abalone
  • curled mantle edge
  • high mortalities (up to 90%).

Biosecurity

Follow instructions given by biosecurity authorities including prohibitions, restrictions and requirements in the control area.

Recreational or commercial fishing or diving is not permitted in the control area.

If you are diving elsewhere in Victoria it’s important to follow good biosecurity procedures. Good hygiene practices in and out of the water can help to stop the spread of aquatic diseases and marine pests.

More information about Biosecurity Control Measures is at the Victorian Fisheries Authority website.

General decontamination advice for divers

Decontamination must be undertaken away from the water's edge so that run-off with soap or detergent does not affect the health of waterways, and as soon as reasonably possible after leaving the water.

If you live or have accommodation in the area, decontamination can be undertaken when you return home. If you are from another area and intend to launch your vessel into other waters, the vessel should be taken to a car wash or service station with wash down facilities.

  • Remove organic material by rinsing diver, equipment and decks during diving operation.Wetsuits, gloves and other diving equipment in a tub of soapy water.
  • At the end of diving, rinse all equipment in fresh water to remove salt, including rinsing the inside of buoyancy compensator device if used.
  • All equipment must be washed or sprayed with a wetsuit cleaning solution or mild soap or shampoo to remove traces of organic matter. Dive suits must be washed inside and out, ideally with a neoprene wash (available from dive and surf shops) although a mild liquid soap or shampoo will suffice.
  • Other equipment can be immersed in large plastic bins with disinfectant.
  • Gloves and catch bags need to be soaked in disinfectant.
  • Thoroughly rinse all dive equipment in fresh water and dry in a well-ventilated area.

People and clothing

  • Divers who come into contact with abalone should wash their hands with soapy water.
  • Waterproof or protective clothing should be rinsed then soaked in diluted detergent for 30 minutes, rinsed, then hung to dry.
  • On returning home, wash clothes with laundry detergent.

General decontamination advice for boats

  • All decks, equipment and superstructures should be cleaned through scrubbing or with high-pressure sprayers. The use of a detergent in this process is recommended.
  • All external areas must be rinsed with fresh water.
  • Decks, diving equipment and other equipment should be hosed down with fresh water, washed with disinfectant, rinsed immediately with fresh water and left to air dry after each trip.

Disposal of viscera

Abalone shell, viscera (meat and gut) should not be:

  • shucked (taken from the shell) at sea
  • dumped into the sea
  • used as fishing bait.

Take your abalone catch home and dispose of the waste with your household rubbish.

Further information

AquaVetPlan for Abalone viral ganglioneuritis

Page last updated: 04 Jun 2021