The parasite Bonamia ostreae has been detected at oyster farms on Stewart Island, off the south end of New Zealand.
Bonamia poses substantial threat to flat oysters, and its discovery off the island was confirmed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) on May 31st, much to the alarm of scientists from the Cawthron Institute, one of the leading global players in the culture of bivalves.
The institute’s Aquaculture Group Manager, Dr Serean Adams, explained the need for research in this area, saying: "Bonamia ostreae was discovered at the top of the South Island two years ago and has now been found at Stewart Island farms.
"We know European flat oysters have been impacted by this pathogen, and indications from overseas research suggests selective breeding for resilience is possible. Much of our current knowledge is based on the experiences of countries with related oyster species.
"There’s a need for targeted research on the New Zealand species and we hope to work with Government agencies and industry on this."