BLUFF-BASED oyster fishermen and concerned locals were invited to a meeting at the Bluff Rugby Club on Wednesday, June 21, in the wake of the Bonamia ostreae virus outbreak.
About 50 people attended to question four Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff heading the response team.
Ministry readiness and response director Geoff Gwyn told the gathering “I’ve got to be honest, there is no zero risk option here. We’ve taken criticism, and some of it we’ve richly deserved, but at the end of the day, we’ve got the same concerns [as the locals]”.
Locals were concerned about the virus spreading from infected Glory Bay farms at Stewart Island and reaching the wild oyster fisheries in Foveaux Strait.
MPI’s deputy chief technical officer for the emergency response Dr Mike Taylor said Glory Bay had “a 17-30 day water retention, and that’s why we’re going in hard now.”
MPI aquaculture unit manager Dan Lees said sampling had now begun outside the Glory Bay area and results from testing carried out at the harbour and oyster hatcheries would be avail
able within a week.
MPI national biosecurity capabilities network manager Andrew Sander said regular chlorine, the kind used in swimming pools, was being used to disinfect infected oysters being moved
to a landfill near Winton.
At present two trucks were taking culled oysters to the landfill, but two more trucks could soon be brought in. This landfill site was selected because it was a “Class A landfill” with “proper leachate and run-off facilities”, he said.
“Time was of the essence, the decision was made [on the landfill site] because other alternatives were not the quickest way of disposing of the oysters.”
The response team was “not quite half way” through lifting and disposing of caged Sanford oysters from Glory Bay, Mr Sander said.