Angel Seafood suspends trade as POMS threatens South Australian oysters
Food & Agriculture
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Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) devastated oyster supplies in Tasmania in 2016, sending a shockwave across the national industry with bans on the movement of live young oysters.
Just as farmers are back on their feet, the disease has been identified again, this time in the previously POMS-free Port River region in Adelaide.
In a note to growers on Thursday, the SA department of Primary Industries advised that the disease had been detected in Port River, Adelaide – the first time it has been detected in the state.
The news prompted Angel Seafood (ASX:AS1) to go into a trading halt until March 5 while it responds to the authority’s concerns.
“The company wishes to advise that POMS has not been discovered on any of the AS1 leases and the Company will provide amplification of this in the announcement,” it said.
AS1 cultivates its young oysters in water leases in Cowell, before transporting them to the famed Coffin Bay to grow to full size.
At its last update, the recently-listed company had 8 million oysters in the water with sales expected to recommence from next month.
The POMS virus – while harmless to humans – makes oysters become weak and lose their ability to close their shells, allowing them to be eaten or die by dehydration.
The site of the outbreak in Adelaide is across both the Spencer and St Vincent Gulf, separated by 252 kilometres of sea.
In the last outbreak, growers experienced a significant undersupply of baby oysters, called spat, that had been traditionally harvested from Tasmania.
Such was the hit to industry that the South Australian government last month announced a $2.6 million recovery package, suspending oyster leasing and licencing fees for the next two years.
Shares in Angel Seafood closed down 2.5 per cent at 20c before the trading halt was imposed on Thursday.
The company reported $873,000 in revenue for the past half, to finish the year at a $1.1 million loss.
Its oyster inventory was valued at $828,000.