Updated: Dec 19, 2018
Before the POMS outbreak in Tasmania, hatchery biosecurity plans did not exist. Things changed after January 2016.
Tasmania is home to some of the largest commercial Pacific Oyster hatcheries, supplying seed Australia wide. They also happened to be in infected areas when the outbreak occurred. In came the biosecurity restrictions, leaving farmers stranded without seed supply especially in unaffected areas.
For business to continue as usual, commercial hatcheries put their heads down to develop a biosecurity plan. POMS recovery also heavily relied on the Australian Seafood Industries (ASI) breeding program and industry needed them to keep producing families.
ASI was using the IMAS hatchery for their spawnings, but the problem was IMAS draws infected waters from the Derwent River. ASI wanted the ability to produce disease free spat.
Funding from the Future Oyster CRC-P was directed to IMAS to build the IMAS Biosecurity Facility.
Significant upgrades were made to their oyster space, including partitioning areas to prevent pathogen spread between differing biosecurity zones through controlling water flow and staff movement within the area.
Andrew Trotter (IMAS), a Co-investigator on the project, describes the new IMAS Biosecurity Facility as “comprising of three rooms physically isolated from one-another".
In his technical report (Trotter et al., 2018), he breaks it down further. The room are divided as "1) the Broodstock Room; 2) the Hatchery; and 3) the Nursery. The rooms are zoned as Red, Transitional (Red, Amber or Green) and Green respectively for the Broodstock Room, the Hatchery and the Nursery, according to level of disease risk assigned to each room”. The following diagram illustrates it below (Fig. 1).
Figure 1. Floorplan of the IMAS Biosecurity Facility. Broodstock Room (right) Hatchery (middle) Nursery (left). The rooms are zoned as Red, Transitional (Red, Amber or Green) and Green respectively for the Broodstock Room, the Hatchery and the Nursery, according to level of pathogen risk assigned to each room. Source: Trotter et al. 2018.
The enhanced biosecurity environment allowed ASI to continue its successful family production in a more efficient and effective manner.
Whilst ASI had no immediate plans to translocate stock into non-infected areas, it was very clear that if they wanted to do this into the future, an audited biosecurity plan would be a non-negotiable.
This would also allow them to continually react quickly to changing situations and requirements of industry. The decision was made to implement a biosecurity plan on this basis.
It has taken 12 months for ASI and IMAS to complete the IMAS-ASI Biosecurity Plan (Pertl et al., 2018). It includes 23 standard operation procedures (SOP) and an Emergency Response Plan.
The draft biosecurity plan was completed in August 2018 and reviewed by Biosecurity Tasmania. It underwent independent audit process on 5 November 2018 and was finally approved on the 6th December 2018. It is currently pending final certification from the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of Tasmania.
Since the beginning of this project all spat and larvae screened for POMS have been negative through PCR testing.
Andrew reports in Trotter et al., 2018 that “the numbers of families produced have been very close to the target or 80 per year, and there have been no health issues whereby the spat have not been able to be deployed to leases for selective breeding analysis.”
For more information on this project, please visit: https://www.oystersaustralia.org/project-2016-801
Pertl, L.P, Trotter, A.J., Endo G., Cunningham, M.P, & Smith, G. G. (2018). ASI-IMAS Oyster Hatchery Biosecurity Plan, Australian Seafood Industries, 18 pp.
Trotter, A.J., Pertl, L., Endo G., Cunningham, M.P., Carter, C. G. & Smith, G. G. (2018). Future Oysters CRC-P: Enhancing Pacific Oyster Breeding to Optimise National Benefits Progress Milestone Deliverable 5 - Hatchery Trials Report, 4pp.
The author acknowledges that the CRC Program supports industry-led collaboration between industry, researchers and the community. The Future Oysters CRC-P, which focuses on the production of ‘Better’, ‘Healthy’ and ‘More’ oysters, is led by Australian Seafood Industry Pty Ltd in partnership with Oyster Australia Ltd, Select Oyster Company Pty Ltd, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Department of Primary Industries and Regions (South Australian Research & Development Institute), University of Tasmania, The Flinders University of South Australia, The University of Newcastle, The University of Adelaide, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, University of Technology Sydney, University of Sunshine Coast, Macquarie University, Department of Skills and Regional Development (NSW), and The Yield Technology Solutions Pty Ltd.