The Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) is caused by a virus which only affects Pacific Oysters. It costs the oyster industry millions, $40 million in South Australia alone.
It was first discovered in Europe and has since spread around the world. It was first found in Australia in 2021 in Georges River in Sydney. It has now spread to Tasmania, South Australia and other parts of New South Wales.
The virus causes mortality in only a few days , with spat (the juvenile oysters) being most at risk. The virus only survives one to two days outside of an oyster but can easily spread in ocean currents.
A project was funded by Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to work out how POMS spreads and to protect the South Australian industry.
The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) became involved and used 10 year ocean modelling to look at how the virus can spread in different conditions and from various locations.
The results were passed onto the industry and have since been used to update the SA POMS disease response plan. The research also found several feral Pacific Oyster locations and these are now being addressed to stop any likely spread.
This type of work by the BOM can be used for other agricultural purposes.