Prawn bug risk in ‘ rushed’ de­ci­sion

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

IN­DUS­TRY lead­ers fear the Govern­ment has bowed to for­eign pres­sure and rushed a de­ci­sion to re­sume raw prawn im­ports from to­day, ex­pos­ing the coun­try to fur­ther biose­cu­rity risks.

Raw prawn im­ports were sus­pended for six months on Jan­uary 6 as an out­break of white spot dis­ease spread through farms on the Lo­gan River, even­tu­ally forc­ing the en­tire south­east Queens­land prawn farm­ing in­dus­try to shut down and de­stroy all stock.

Two fed­eral in­quiries are in­ves­ti­gat­ing cir­cum­stances around the out­break and are yet to de­liver their find­ings but the Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment has con­firmed the sus­pen­sion lapsed yes­ter­day. Im­porters face tough new re­stric­tions but prawn in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives said they were not con­vinced the mea­sures would elim­i­nate biose­cu­rity risks.

Queens­land Seafood In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Eric Perez said the only way “to stop this bug com­ing in from over­seas is only al­low­ing cooked prawns”.

The Aus­tralian Prawn Farm­ers As­so­ci­a­tion has sought as­sur­ances from Fed­eral Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce that there would be “rig­or­ous test­ing to make sure dis­eased prawns are not able to en­ter the coun­try”.

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