Abalone industry class action Trial to proceed against State of Victoria
23 September 2013
A Supreme Court of Victoria Trial against the State of Victoria will start on Monday 23 September 2013 over alleged government failure to control a virus which decimated the state's wild abalone fishing industry.
Class action law firm Maurice Blackburn is acting on behalf of 44 license holders, 40 divers and four abalone processing plants.The wild abalone population in the State's south west was almost wiped out due to the 2006 outbreak of the lethal Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis.
Two weeks ago Maurice Blackburn negotiated a confidential settlement with one of the defendants, Southern Ocean Mariculture Pty Ltd.
Jacob Varghese, class action principal said, "This settlement does not affect the outstanding issues in the class action against the primary respondent - the State Government.
"The abalone industry was a major economic force in the State's South West and has suffered enormous damage. Those affected are justified seeking compensation for the alleged failures. Before this outbreak the industry was worth around $100 million annually. The license holders have seen the value of their licenses plummet.
"The virus broke out on an abalone farm near Port Fairy in March 2006. The farm, Southern Ocean Mariculture, notified the Department of Primary Industries. The claimants allege that the Department was well aware of how dangerous the virus was, but nonetheless continued to let the farm pump infected water directly onto a wild abalone habitat. From there, the disease spread like a bushfire, killing up to 95% of abalone on the south west coast.
The disease spread more than 100 kilometres along the coast from Port Fairy to Cape Otway between March and May 2006.