PRAWN farmers have welcomed news that the latest testing for white spot has shown as negative from 38 locations from Moreton Bay to Cairns, including the Logan River and Brisbane River.
Australian Prawn Farmers Association president Matt West said it was the news growers wanted to hear following the emotional and financial heartache the industry had been through in the past 11 months, particularly the Logan farmers.
“However, as raw prawns are still being imported from overseas, our farmers continue to be proactive in implementing enhanced biosecurity measures on their farms,” Mr West said.
“But on-farm measures can only go so far and we urge government to protect our borders, and the public to remain vigilant regarding the use of prawns as bait, or throwing seafood scraps in our waterways.”
White spot disease is a highly contagious disease for prawns and other crustaceans, but poses no risk to humans.
Mr West said the ‘Be a mate and check your bait’ campaign by the Queensland Government is an important initiative aimed at keeping imported prawns out of our waterways. Imported prawns and seafood scraps can introduce serious diseases like what we have seen with the white spot incursion, and can devastate not only aquaculture industries, but our natural environment as well.
“There is still a lot more work to be done by both levels of government in collaboration with Industry to address the current risks” Mr West said.
“But we are pleased government is on the journey with us in protecting the prawn industry and Australian prawn farmers, so we can continue to deliver fresh quality Australian prawns to local businesses and the Australian public.”
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said more than 25,000 samples of farmed and wild prawns and crabs have been tested in Queensland and NSW and it had been six months since a sample tested positive.
“The latest tests conducted by the Queensland Government in the Brisbane and Logan Rivers as well as in the Moreton Bay areas also returned negative results,” Mr Joyce said.
“We understand that there is still a long way to go in rebuilding the prawn farming industry in the Logan River and confirming the disease has been eradicated from our waters, but this is a positive milestone that shows we are on our way.
“These results show that the current surveillance and management activities, as well as the enhanced import conditions that were put in place, are helping us effectively manage it and we remain committed to getting rid of this destructive disease.”
The Australian prawn farming industry produced more than 5000 tonnes (2014-15) of product annually with a farm gate value estimated to be $87.7 million, providing more than 300 direct jobs. The Australian industry is one of the smaller volumetric producers in the world but leads the world in productivity with an average yield of more than 9000kg/hectare. Farms are currently located in Queensland and NSW.