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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 28 March 2017

Tighter controls to protect WA fisheries from white spot disease

​Following the recent further detections of white spot disease (WSD) in Brisbane’s Moreton Bay, WA’s Department of Fisheries has taken further action to prevent the devastating disease being introduced here, by tightening import requirements for crustaceans and worms from Queensland and New South Wales.

WSD is a highly contagious disease that affects crustaceans and has caused high rates of mortality in stocks on seven prawn farms in South East QLD.  The virus does not pose a threat to human health or food safety.

WSD is not known to be present in Western Australia, however, if not managed it could pose a serious threat to crustaceans including prawns, crabs, lobsters and marron.

The Department of Fisheries’ tighter import requirements now prohibit the entry into WA of all live and uncooked crustaceans (previously only prawns) and worms, from north of Rockhampton in QLD to a line south between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie in NSW (see map). Cooking destroys the virus, so all cooked products are still able to be imported to this State.

Compliance and Regional Support Manager John Looby said that the updated import requirements are a precautionary measure and there have been no known detections of WSD in NSW. The requirements will be subject to review as new information becomes available.

“It is expected the updated requirements will have minimal impact on seafood supplies into WA and will enhance the WSD work being done in QLD and locally to further reduce the risk of WSD spreading here,” Mr Looby said.

“It is crucial that anyone seeking to import crustaceans or worms from QLD or NSW check to ensure they are compliant with these updated import requirements. Details on the updated import requirements are on the Department of Agriculture and Food WA website (import requirements).” 
 
These expanded requirements complement action taken by the federal government to suspend all uncooked prawn imports from overseas and recalling raw prawns imported prior to the suspension.

While all efforts are being made by the federal and state governments to manage interstate and overseas disease pathways, it is still possible some high-risk prawns may be available for sale.

WA’s Recreational fishers are therefore urged to remain vigilant by not using as bait any uncooked prawns or other crustaceans intended for human consumption. Fishers can also help by not disposing of crustacean waste including heads and shells in, or near, waterways.

Mr Looby said the current situation required recreational fishers to help protect their aquatic environments and their favourite pastime, particularly as bait prawns may become a little harder to source.

“It’s an easy decision to talk to your local bait supplier about alternative baits to prawns or other crustaceans or even better only buy locally caught WA bait,” he said.

Fishers should check their bait prawns or other crustaceans for signs of WSD and any thought to have the disease should be retained and immediately reported to the FishWatch 24-hour hotline on 1800 815 507.

More information about WSD can be found at: http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Sustainability-and-Environment/Aquatic-Biosecurity/Pages/Biosecurity-Incidents.aspx

Last modified: 31/03/2017 9:47 AM

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