Flat oyster parasite huge risk for iconic Bluff oyster industry

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) needs to prioritise and put its resources behind containing the further spread of the Bonamia ostreae parasite, and meet the challenge of eradicating it as best they can, the Green Party said today.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) needs to prioritise and put its resources behind containing the further spread of the Bonamia ostreae parasite, and meet the challenge of eradicating it as best they can, the Green Party said today.

News that Bonamia ostreae has been found in two oyster farms in Stewart Island could spell the end of the iconic Bluff oyster industry as we know it unless strong action is taken.

“Every biosecurity incursion in New Zealand costs us millions of dollars and negatively affects our native ecosystems. The flat oyster parasite has the potential to significantly damage the Bluff oyster industry,” said Green Party biosecurity spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“The last thing the Bluff oyster fishing industry and oyster lovers need is this new strain of Bonamia ostreae on top of the previous hits the industry has taken from an earlier strain, Bonamia exitiosa.

“Although MPI has not reported any Bluff oysters with the parasite, it is only a matter of time – unless they focus on destroying all host material in the immediate area of the new finds.

“This new Bonamia strain has previously been found in Marlborough, where it has decimated farmed flat oyster stocks and has been known to kill 90 percent of wild and farmed populations when infected.

“In recent weeks, MPI has been trying to control the spread of the myrtle rust disease, and they are now facing another massive biosecurity risk. Government must ensure they have all the resources they need to address these incursions,” said Mr Browning.

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