Research and Surveillance


Since the initial outbreak of the AVG in 2005, significant resources have been allocated to research. The department hosted a second National Abalone Virus Scientific and Management Forum in October 2007 with the aim to prioritise future research projects. This lead to the development of a prioritised work plan, which was split into the following three key work areas:

  • Epidemiology;
  • Biosecurity; and
  • Stock Sustainability.

Considerable progress has been made against many of the objectives of the work plan with projects completed, in progress or planned to be undertaken with funding either obtained or to be further identified. View the current progress of the National Abalone Health Workplan - Summary Table.

In November 2007, scientists from the department's Attwood facility announced that they had successfully sequenced the DNA of the abalone disease and discovered that it is a unique strain that has not been previously identified. The sequencing of the disease was a crucial step towards developing the PCR test. The PCR test provides greater confidence in the diagnosis of the disease and enables it to now be detected in abalone that are not showing visible symptoms. It may also allow scientists to distinguish between abalone that have been exposed to the disease but are immune and abalone that have not been exposed. The PCR test has since been validated and is now in operation in both Victoria and Tasmania.

Other key research projects that have been completed include the development of biosecurity control measures for all sectors and a biomass estimate near Port Fairy that aimed to assess abalone stocks impacted by the disease and guide future harvesting in these areas. In addition to the commitment and support of the abalone industry, the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation has also contributed over $700,000 to into research to date.

Further research continues to be undertaken to assess the distribution of the disease, mode of infection and taxonomy.


Gavine, F. Ingram, B. Doroudi, M.
Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram
Development of Management Strategies for Herpes-like Virus Infection in Abalone
Paul Hardy-Smith
Panaquatic Health Solutions
An epidemiological analysis of the events surrounding an outbreak of a new disease in farmed and wild abalone in Victoria - Technical Summary
Peter Mansell
University of Melbourne
Technical Review of James Thyler Report
Anna Mouton
Review of the disease investigation relating to a herpes like virus infection of abalone in Victoria.

H. Gorfine, R. Day, D. Bardos, B. Taylor, J. Prince, K. Sainsbury & C.
Rapid response to abalone virus depletion in western Victoria: information acquisition and reef code assessment

S. Mayfield, R. McGarvey, H.K. Gorfine, P. Burch & S. Sharma
Biomass of blacklip abalone (Haliotis rubra) between Pt Fairy and the Crags in the Western Zone of the Victorian abalone fishery.

Jeremy Prince & Harry Peeters
Costs-benefit Analysis of Implementing

Alternative Techniques for Rehabilitating Reefs Severely Depleted by the Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis Epidemic

M.S.J. Crane, S. Corbeil, M. Fegan, S. Warner
Development of molecular diagnostic procedures for the detection and identification of herpes-like virus of abalone (Haliotis spp.)


The department is continuing surveillance and monitoring of wild abalone populations and aquaculture farms.