Rare virus wipes out millions of juvenile oysters

MILLIONS of oysters have been wiped out in 24 hours by a rare virus spreading through NSW rivers.

The Pacific oyster mortality syndrome was detected in the Hawkesbury earlier this week and yesterday farmers heard the dreaded news that the virus had reached Mullet Creek where millions of juvenile oysters were growing.

While the losses are not expected to impact restaurant and supermarket prices, oyster farmers in the Hawkesbury region have lost 90% of stock which would have been ready for harvest just in time for Christmas.

Farmer Rob Moxham told the Herald that oysters had no resistance to the virus and the result had been devastating.

He explained that since the QX disease destroyed the entire Sydney rock oyster crop in 2005, some farmers had switched to the fast-growing Pacific oyster, thinking it was a safer option.

About half of the state's oyster supply comes from the Hawkesbury region.

More than 240ha is under quarantine.

The damage bill is expected to exceed $2.4million.

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