A parasite that has the potential to harm the oyster industry has been found in Foveaux Strait but there is hope the systems in place to ensure boats and equipment are clean will help to ensure it doesn’t spread further.
On 25 March 2021, three wild oysters from Foveaux Strait were confirmed infected with Bonamia ostreae, a parasite that infects flat oysters, including New Zealand’s flat (Bluff or dredge) oysters, which can cause widespread oyster deaths.
Within five days, Ngāi Tahu and Biosecurity New Zealand enacted a rāhui and a Controlled Area Notice to the specific geographical area where the infected oysters were found, to reduce the risk of the disease spreading. Sampling of other sites is also underway.
The infection is spread by currents and in carriers such as other shellfish, aquaculture equipment and vessels.
So far, the experts believe that this pest is not widespread, and it’s fortunate the monitoring programme caught it so early. But boat owners and aquaculture operators need to ensure they are absolutely diligent about checking and cleaning hulls and equipment in order to reduce the risk of it spreading via ballast water, biofouling, or on fishing gear, aquaculture equipment or construction materials.
Many regions in New Zealand now have rules and requirements relating to marine pest pathways. Boaties can get information from the website www.marinepests.nz
For more information about Bonamia ostreae visit: