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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Biosecurity alerts

Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) in wild Abalone in Victoria

Victoria reported the re-occurrence of AVG in wild abalone on 04 May 2021. Victoria is investigating the extent of the disease to gain a clearer understanding of the situation and has implemented restrictions in the meantime. The last recorded instance of AVG in the wild in Victoria was in 2010.

Key features of AVG

AVG is a viral disease affecting the nervous system of abalone resulting in weakness and death of the shellfish. There are no known or likely impacts for human health. AVG only affects abalone species.

AVG has not been reported from Western Australian abalone. If introduced into Western Australia (WA), AVG could have a severe impact on abalone in WA and WA’s important commercial, recreational and aquaculture abalone sectors.

To prevent introduction of AVG into WA, the import of live abalone into WA from Victoria and other States is not permitted. It’s also illegal to use abalone meat or any abalone material as fishing bait in WA.

Look out for and report disease signs in abalone

The detection in Victoria was made by a diver who noticed a cluster of dead abalone and reported their concerns. This shows the critical role industry and community members play in monitoring our aquatic environments for disease and pest threats, and reporting anything unusual.

Signs of AVG in abalone

  • You may see patches of weak and/or dead abalone that are easily removed from or fall off the reef and cannot right themselves.
  • There may be clusters where there are only empty shells present (evidence of abalone that have died and been scavenged)
  • In some abalone you may see swelling of the mouth parts or edges of the foot curling inwards, leading to exposure of clean shiny shell, but this is more common on farms.

How to report

  • Report any signs of disease in abalone to the WA FishWatch 24-hour hotline on 1800 815 507.
  • You may be asked to collect some whole abalone in a sealed plastic bag or container and record the exact location where the samples were collected. Samples should be kept refrigerated but not frozen.

What you can do to help protect WA from AVG

  • Keep a close watch for signs of sick abalone and report any signs to the WA FishWatch 24-hour hotline on 1800 815 507.
  • Do not move abalone between locations, including shells and offal.
  • Never bring live abalone into WA (it is illegal to move live abalone into WA without approval).
  • Abalone shell, meat and gut must not be removed from their shell (shucked) at sea or dumped into the sea (it is illegal for recreational fishers to shuck abalone at sea).
  • Do not use abalone as fishing bait (it is illegal to use abalone as bait).
  • Take your whole catch home and dispose of the waste and shell with your household rubbish.
  • Keep your fishing gear, dive gear and boat clean and disinfected.

How to clean gear and boats

By thoroughly cleaning surfaces and removing organic material that may harbour the virus you can prevent the spread of many aquatic diseases and marine pests.

  • Wash gear thoroughly – wash wetsuits with a wetsuit wash preparation (available from dive and surf shops) and freshwater, or with a mild soap or shampoo. Tanks, buoyancy vests, regulators and masks that have not come in contact with abalone can be washed down with soap-free freshwater. Equipment that has come into contact with abalone (catch bags, gloves, dive knives and measuring devices) should be soaked in soapy freshwater for 30 minutes and then rinsed. All equipment should be allowed to dry (preferably in the sun) before re-use.
  • Wash boats thoroughly with freshwater and detergent away from the shore. Use of specialised detergents produces good results but any detergent will do. If you can’t wash your boat at home use a car wash or service station with wash-down facilities.
  • Wash hands and clothes – all people that have contact with abalone should wash their hands with soap and water. Spray waterproof clothing with soapy freshwater and rinse, leave in the sun to dry. Wash all other clothing in laundry detergent.

More information about AVG

Alexandrium health warning

In the past two years there have been two unprecedented blooms of toxic dinoflagellate algae, Alexandrium spp., in the Swan and Canning rivers.

Alexandrium algae produce paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) which can be concentrated by filter feeding shellfish. These toxins are known to affect a wide range of species and may bio accumulate, resulting in potential impacts on crabs, fish, birds and mammals.

Human consumption of shellfish containing high levels of PSTs can result in poisoning and may cause death.  Freezing and normal cooking processes do not destroy these PSTs.

Please do not eat mussels and remove the head, guts (mustard) and gills from blue swimmer crabs caught by recreational fishers in the Swan and Canning rivers, before freezing, cooking or eating them. All crabs must still be landed and transported whole to your home (your principal place of residence) unless you plan to eat them immediately.

Please see below resources related to Alexandrium algal blooms.

How to clean blue swimmer crabs flyer, available in five languages:

How to clean blue swimmer crabs video

Alexandrium FAQs

Alexandrium algal bloom information 

Alexandrium blooms monitoring

Blooming surprise Landscope article March 2021.pdfBlooming surprise Landscope article March 2021.pdf

Look out for caution signs installed at key Swan Canning Riverpark locations including jetties, traffic bridges, boat ramps and popular fishing locations.

Alexandrium warning sign.jpg

Biosecurity Alerts

Current biosecurity alerts are listed below. Fishers are asked to look out for these pests and to report evidence of them to FishWatch

Marine pest alerts

Asian green mussel

Asian paddle crab

Black-striped mussel

European green crab

Japanese kelp

Northern pacific seastar

Redclaw crayfish

Spangled perch

Disease alerts

White spot disease in prawns

Biosecurity fact sheets

Indistinct river shrimp

Asian green mussel


Last modified: 17/05/2021 2:11 PM

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