Oyster issues on global agenda

OYSTER FOCUS: World Oyster Society president Professor Katsuyoshi Mori and his wife Yoshiko Miri with local chapter director Jill Coates and oyster grower Chris Hank.THE pacific oyster mortality syndrome (POMS) affecting pacific oyster populations around the world will be on the agenda for thenext International Oyster Symposium.

Founder and president of the World Oyster Society professor Katsuyoshi Mori visited Eyre Peninsula last week as part of an Australian visit to look at potential topics for the symposium.

Comingfrom the Miyagi Prefecture in Japan, where the pacific oyster originated, professor Mori felt compelledto startthe society in 2005 to improve knowledge about the speciesand promote his philosophy: “Let the sea live and let us live with the sea.”

The organisation has five chapters, including the Asian and Oceanian Chapter, which Australia is part of, and worldwide membershiphas grown from 20 members to 860 and professor Mori ishoping to reach 1000 members beforethe international symposium next year.

He said theCrassostrea gigasvirus,known in Australia as pacific oyster mortality syndrome (POMS), was the biggest issue facing the pacific oyster industry across the world, not just in Australia.

During his visit professor Mori met withlocal researchers, growers and hatchery operators and visited a hatchery and Chris and Linda Hank’s Pure Oyster Farm at Coffin Bay.

Mr Hank said the risk of pacific oyster mortality syndrome was an issue for the local industry but he was staying positive.

“To be a farmer you have to be an optimist and so we are going ahead with what we have always done in the past and hopefully we don’t get it but if we do then we’ll have to work our way around it.

“But of course we’d prefer it didn’t happen.”

Professor Mori said he believed the pacific oyster was one of the best indicators of climate change because they were so widespread worldwide and they were so sensitive to their environment.

Asian and Oceanian Chapter director Jill Coates said by gathering oyster mortality data at different ages, different sizes and different times of the year at the same time as environment data such as pH, temperature, disolved oxygen and chlorophyll the industry could start to understand what the impact of climate change might be.

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