Exotic pest oyster found in Far North

News release | 02-Jun-2020

Increased community surveillance and awareness of marine pests has led to the discovery of the exotic pest species, the black scar oyster (Magallana bilineata) in three Far North Queensland locations.

Biosecurity Queensland General Manager John Robertson confirmed the oyster has been detected in Port Douglas, Cooktown and Cairns.

“A commercial fisher cleaning his boat found some specimens in Port Douglas, while the population in Cooktown was detected by Indigenous Rangers trained in marine pest surveillance,” Dr Robertson said.

“The Cairns detection was made during a university research survey and detected simultaneously through the Queensland Seaports eDNA Surveillance (Q-SEAS) marine pest detection program.

“These detections highlight the ongoing threat of marine pests and the importance of ongoing marine pest surveillance activities by the community and Queensland’s Q-SEAS marine pest detection program.”

Dr Robertson said Biosecurity Queensland is investigating the extent of the incursions to determine potential future control, monitoring or treatment measures.

“Black scar oyster has not been previously detected in Australian waters and little is known about this pest and its potential impacts in Queensland,” he said.

“The national Consultative Committee on Introduced Marine Pest Emergencies (CCIMPE) has been notified of the detection and will provide advice to Biosecurity Queensland during the development of future management options.”

The black scar oyster fouls submerged and floating infrastructure including pylons, pontoons and boats with the ability to occupy disturbed habitats including shallow subtidal sites in quiet locations.

The marine pest shares the traditional features of tropical oysters and is not distinguishable from its native counterparts in the early stages of life cycle. A mature black scar oyster can be identified by its distinctive size of up to 18cm in length which is much larger than native species.

Boaties should maintain regular maintenance and cleaning of their vessel to prevent spreading the pest, by doing the following:

  • apply antifouling paint
  • clean boats in a dry dock or slipway (out of the water)
  • look out for any attached pests
  • check and clean gear including pots, nets, fishing or diving gear, anchors and ropes, before moving between locations.

Everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of black scar oyster spreading.

If you suspect black scar oyster or see a suspicious marine organism, please report it immediately to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

More information is available online at www.daf.qld.gov.au

Follow Biosecurity Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@BiosecurityQld)

ENDS​​​​​​​

Media contact: DAF Media, media@daf.qld.gov.au