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Oyster parasite could have an impact: Guy

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/05/2017

The parasite detected in two Stewart Island oyster farmers could have an impact on the industry but so far it hasn't been found in wild fisheries, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Bonamia ostreae can be fatal for flat oysters but the parasite doesn't pose a food safety issue.

Mr Guy says bonamia has been around since the 1960s but this is a slightly different strain.

"It's unfortunate, it will have a bit of an impact on the oysters that are farmed on Stewart Island and a controlled area notice has been put in place," he told reporters on Thursday.

"It hasn't been found in the wild fisheries around Bluff, which is really important - we will do what we need to do on the back of good science."

Mr Guy said it was too early to say what the potential impact could be.

"The oyster industry is worth $20 million to $30m, it will have some impact but if you have a look at what has happened in the wild fishery, it has ebbed and flowed for the last couple of decades," he said.

"When you have intensive oyster farming like we've got in these two fish farms it tends to have a greater impact."

MPI biosecurity surveillance and incursion manager Brendan Gould says fresh, good quality New Zealand oysters continue to be safe to eat.

"Bonamia ostreae is a naturally occurring parasite and is difficult to contain and eradicate as it spreads easily through ocean currents and on vessels," he said.

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