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POMS Outbreak Needs Research and Climate Change Mitigation Strategy

9 March 2016

WEDNESDAY 9 MARCH 2016

Andrea Dawkins On tomorrow to move -

That this House notes:

1.      Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome, the devastating virus affecting Tasmania’s oyster industry;

2.      That the disease has been prevalent in southern Tasmanian waters since early February and is thought to have wiped out around 70% of the remaining oysters to be harvested for the season, with an estimated cost to the industry of $7 million;

3.      That the cause of the virus is suspected to be a warming of Tasmania’s waters to 21 degrees, which is uncommon and very likely the result of climate change and global warming;

4.      That after a POMS outbreak in the Hawkesbury River in NSW, which killed 10 million oysters in 3 days, the $3 million a year industry in that river was completely abandoned;

5.      That as Tasmania supplies 35-40% of oysters to southern Australia and 90% of Pacific oyster spat to New South Wales and South Australia , recovery of the industry is likely to be slow with a ban in place on importation of live product from Tasmania;

6.      That public perception is also having an effect on the industry with people being naturally fearful of any kind of ‘virus’ associated with seafood, which has seen prices plummet and will undoubtedly continue to impact the recovery of the industry as farmers look to instead try and increase prices to recoup losses;

7.      That the government has provided some financial aid, but that this is unlikely to assist the 70 odd people who have lost their jobs to date;

8.      That depression and mental health issues are already affecting oyster farmers and that this is likely to continue and increase;

9.      That Rural Alive and Well are providing support and counselling to farmers affected by the POMS outbreak;

10. That research and breeding programs in the process of developing POMS resistant oysters will be crucial on and into the future as the industry continues to struggle with virus as a result of warming oceans;

11. That the ‘brighter future’ slogan has not provided the Government with the policy substance required to deal with the real world challenges of governing; and

12. Further, that this House:

a.      Calls on the Minister for Primary Industries, Jeremy Rockliff MP, to work in conjunction with his federal counterparts to ensure that State and Federal funding is provided to;

                                                  i.      Support farmers and industry workers struggling financially from the POMS outbreak;

                                               ii.      Rural Alive and Well to ensure counselling and support is continued to be provided to anyone affected in the industry; and

                                             iii.      The breeding and research programs to ensure a faster process in developing POMS resistant stock.