Better messaging needed about Abalone Virus

Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell has called on the State Government to improve it’s messaging about an exclusion zone establish off the coast of Portland following an outbreak of Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis at Cape Nelson.

Ms Britnell said she has been contacted by people concerned the government’s messaging indicated all fishing off the coast of Portland is banned, leading to a downturn in visitors during the peak Blue Fin tuna season.

“To be absolutely clear – I understand measures have to be taken to protect the abalone industry from a repeat of the last disastrous outbreak of this virus,” Ms Britnell said.

“But the messaging can be improved, and it needs to be made clear that people can travel through the exclusion zone and are able to fish beyond it.

“The exclusion zone extends 10 kilometres off shore and I’m told the best tuna is found some 50 kilometres off shore. It’s perfectly legal and safe for people to travel through that exclusion zone and to fish beyond it.

“I’ve asked both the Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas and the Minister for Boating and Fishing Melissa Horne to ensure that message is made very clear.”

Ms Britnell said when she was in Portland recently, she was shocked to see the lack of activity around the boat ramp and foreshore area.

“Normally at this time of year that areas would be lined with hundreds of boat trailers – the day I was there I saw only one trailer in the car park,” she said.

“Recreational fishing supports countless small family businesses in Portland and provides a much-needed boost during the tourist off-season for local accommodation providers.

“The poor messaging and lack of information has provided yet another blow to the Portland community which is still recovering form the three coronavirus lockdowns – one of which impacted last year’s tuna season.

“The Government needs to ensure it’s messaging around this exclusion zone is clear so it protects the abalone industry, but also supports recreational fishing beyond the zone.”

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