White spot disease in shrimp. (Photo: Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries/FIS)
Queensland’s largest aquatic disease crisis leads to total prawn ban
Friday, March 17, 2017, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
An outbreak of white spot in prawn was confirmed to have spread to northern Moreton Bay, Queensland, forcing a total ban that will cost the local industry dearly, but create a feast for local seafood lovers.
The State Government announced the restrictions, which prohibit any raw crustaceans leaving an area from the NSW border to Caloundra and inland past Ipswich, after 31 prawns found near Deception Bay and the Redcliffe Peninsula tested positive to the virus that causes white spot disease, The Courier Mail reported.
The disease is harmless to humans and the new restrictions are expected to create a glut of prawn, crabs, Moreton Bay bugs and yabbies in the restricted zone, while creating shortages in other regions in Australia and the export market.
The disease was first detected on prawn farms in the Logan River region in November last year and spread to all seven active farms in the area.
Prawn farmers have already destroyed prawn worth more than AUD 25 million (USD 19.2 million) and the Queensland Government has spent more than AUD 8.5 million (USD 6.5 million) attempting to eradicate the disease.
Australia’s reputation as white spot free, a key marketing point for crustacean exporters, is also under threat if the disease continues to spread.
Queensland Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said there was “absolutely no risk to humans” from consuming diseased crustaceans however the disease created “reputational issues” for the industry.
He concluded that the disease did not spread easily in the wild and would not “wipe out” crustaceans in the bay.