Spot disease puts prawns under threat
White spot disease is threatening to make its way to WA shores, causing the Department of Fisheries to call on recreational fishers to do help prevent the disease.
White spot disease is a highly contagious viral disease that affects crustaceans and has now been detected on five prawn farms in south-east Queensland.
The disease does not pose a threat to human health but causes high rates of mortality in prawn stock and could devastate Australia’s $360 million prawn industry.
If WSD is established in WA, it could pose a threat to the State’s freshwater and marine crustaceans in both farmed and wild fisheries, including prawns, crabs, lobsters and marron.
Until this incident, Australia had been one of the few countries in the world with a prawn farming industry free of WSD.
Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce announced recently the indefinite suspension of raw prawn imports after the disease was detected in prawns sold for human consumption.
This is the first use of the suspension power since the new Biosecurity Act 2015 came into force.
Recfishwest operations manager Leyland Campbell said the situation required recreational fishers to help protect the environment.
“Some fishers might be tempted to buy food-grade prawns to use as bait, but as imported prawns come from countries where WSD is very common, it’s not worth taking the chance,” he said.
Fishers have been asked to keep an eye out for WSD and anyone using prawns as bait, and report anything to the FishWatch 24-hour hotline on 1800 815 507.