$146,000 to support Australia’s abalone industry – Fishupdate.com

$146,000 to support Australia’s abalone industry Published:  10 October, 2007

THE Australian Government is committing over $146,000 to support Australia’s vital abalone industry.

This includes $26,620 to assist the Tasmanian Abalone Council develop a new Quality Code of Practice, and $19,450 to the Tasmanian Abalone Growers Association to support a new biosecurity protocols project.

This will complement a further $100,000 to new research efforts into the herpes-like viral disease that is spreading through abalone stocks in western Victoria.

Australian Minister for Fisheries and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz, said the commitment is part of a national approach to the ganglioneuritis disease that has been a serious blow to Victorian abalone fishermen and farmers.

A national forum met in Melbourne last week to discuss management of the disease and agreed to form a new committee comprised of industry and government representatives to develop and implement measures to address the disease threat.

“The Victorian Government has managed the disease response in that state, but a national approach is essential to protect Australia’s valuable abalone stocks that are found across several states,” Senator Abetz said.

“This is particularly the case in Tasmania, which has the world’s largest wild abalone fishery, providing around 25 per cent of the annual world harvest and supporting a large recreational fishery with more than 12,000 participants.

“Abalone fishermen, abalone farmers and governments will need to work together to ensure any further impacts from the virus are minimised.

“This is a new disease that our scientists currently know very little about.

“We need to know more about the virus and its interaction with abalone populations if we are to put effective control measures in place that will limit its spread and impact on the abalone industry.”

The disease first appeared in abalone farms in Victoria in late 2005 and had spread to wild populations by mid-2006. The virus affects the abalone’s nervous system, resulting in weakness and death, but presents no human health risks.

Senator Abetz said the Australian Government has helped the research effort through several projects of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

“But much more research will be needed and this new committee will require funds to ensure its research priorities can be addressed,” the Minister said.

“I want this committee to have the best chance of success and I’m willing to throw my support behind it. The Australian Government’s commitment of $100,000 for the committee’s research priorities will allow the group to begin work immediately.

“I hope the states will follow the Australian Government’s lead and pledge funds to ensure this committee can work to ensure our abalone resources are protected.”

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