Bluff oys­ters un­der at­tack

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - DAVE NI­COLL

Bluff oys­ter have come un­der threat af­ter the dis­cov­ery of a lethal par­a­site at two Ste­wart Is­land oys­ter farms.

The Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries con­firmed the de­tec­tion of Bon­amia os­treae in two oys­ter farms on Ste­wart Is­land.

Bon­amia os­treae has been in New Zealand since at least 2015 in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds and Nel­son, but this is the first time it has been found in another area of New Zealand. The par­a­site can be fa­tal for flat oys­ters.

Min­istry biose­cu­rity sur­veil­lance and In­cur­sion man­ager Bren­dan Gould said Bon­amia os­treae was a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring par­a­site and was dif­fi­cult to con­tain and erad­i­cate as it was spread eas­ily through ocean cur­rents and on ves­sels.

‘‘We are con­cerned that Bon­amia os­treae has been found in Ste­wart Is­land, and our pri- or­ity is on de­ter­min­ing the ex­tent of the prob­lem and lim­it­ing fur­ther spread.’’

The min­istry has been aware of the par­a­site in Ste­wart Is­land fish­eries since May 24.

The min­istry has reis­sued a con­trolled area no­tice legally re­strict­ing move­ments of some shell­fish species, in­clud­ing their spat, into and out of Nel­son, Marl­bor­ough Sounds and Ste­wart Is­land. It also legally re­stricts move­ments of farm equip­ment and ves­sels out of Ste­wart Is­land to limit fur­ther spread.

There is no food safety is­sue from eat­ing oys­ters with Bon­amia os­treae.

‘‘Our pri­or­ity is on de­ter­min­ing the ex­tent of the prob­lem and lim­it­ing fur­ther spread’’

JOHN HAWKINS

It is the first time the par­a­site has been dis­cov­ered out­side of the Marl­bor­ough Sounds and Nel­son.

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