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Assessment of the risks associated with the release of abalone sourced from Abalone hatcheries for enhancement or marine grow out in the open ocean areas of WA

Jones, J.B.ORCID: 0000-0002-0773-2007 and Fletcher, W.J. (2012) Assessment of the risks associated with the release of abalone sourced from Abalone hatcheries for enhancement or marine grow out in the open ocean areas of WA. Government of Western Australia. Department of Fisheries WA

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Abstract

The virus that causes Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) is considered to be exotic to Western Australia (WA). The known distribution includes Victoria, Tasmania and Taiwan. There are a number of known strains of the virus; Tasmanian strains do not (to date) cause mortalities in wild abalone (but do so in farms and processing facilities). Victorian and Taiwanese strains cause high mortalities in wild abalone. Despite active surveillance, the virus has not been found in NSW, South Australia or Western Australia but there is a low likelihood that WA specific strains may exist undetected.

The risk posed by AVG virus occurring in juveniles sourced from hatcheries in WA and translocated to the open ocean in southern Western Australia either for stock enhancement (reseeding) or for marine grow-out (sea-ranching) purposes has been assessed using standard risk assessment methodology with the outputs having been independently reviewed.

While the likelihoods of the AVG virus occurring in the hatchery range from “negligible to “low” should no additional management measures be applied, the consequences of detection (including biological, economic and environmental) are generally “High” and in two cases the resultant risks were “unacceptable” with just the current legal management requirements. Given that the initial risks associated with oceanic deployment of abalone were assessed as Moderate to High, additional formal management intervention is required to reduce these to acceptable levels.

The primary concern is that the virus could become established in a hatchery facility and then be more likely to infect wild stock through the release of hatchery released juveniles into the oceanic waters. The likelihood of this outcome occurring has been assessed as very low if the suggested hatchery management measures that could be applied to mitigate the risk to an acceptable level are adopted. Protocols are in place to ensure that any emergence of AVG in a hatchery would be detected. If the virus was ever detected in the hatchery the water supply should be immediately shut down. This can be done using existing legislation (FRMA r177(2) so there is no legislative impediment to limiting effects of a disease outbreak in a hatchery). The placement of grow out structures and juvenile releases could also be planned in a manner to both minimise the likelihood of transmission to wild stocks and limit the spread of any infection.

Item Type: Report
Series Name: Fisheries Research Report [Western Australia] No. 227
Publisher: Government of Western Australia. Department of Fisheries WA
Copyright: © 2012 Department of Fisheries, Western Australia
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/43189
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