White spot restricts Qld prawn farmers

The Queensland government has banned the removal of uncooked prawns from southeast Queensland’s Moreton Bay following news the devastating white spot disease has continued to spread.

There were 31 infected prawns detected near the Redcliffe Peninsula and Deception Bay in the past week.

The discovery triggered the immediate enforcement of a movement control order, in a bid to stop the virus from spreading and causing the disease.

State Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne made the announcement on Thursday following a meeting with local farmers.

Mr Byrne said the order, in place for three months, affected operators from Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast through to the NSW border.

“Green prawns and other uncooked crustaceans will not be permitted to be moved outside the zone,” he said.

“Cooked crustacean products will be permitted to leave.”

Departmental staff will meet with every operator over the coming days to talk to them about the new restrictions.

Mr Byrne said he was hopeful the fishing and wider community would support the measures because there was “no other option” available.

“There is no prospect of us putting a checkpoint at every road or exit point here,” he said.

“It does require a level of cooperation from everybody.”

The disease has already devastated prawn farms along the Logan River, where it was detected late last year.

Mr Byrne reiterated there was no risk to people if they ate a white spot diseased-product, but rather it was the reputation of southeast Queensland’s seafood industry that was at stake.

Mr Byrne and chief biosecurity officer Jim Thompson confirmed there was a “real” risk the disease might not be eradicated from Moreton Bay.

An independent report into white spot disease, also released on Thursday, addressed what would happen if that occurred.

But Mr Byrne said, for now, he was focussed on the next three months and ensuring the virus wasn’t detected in any more prawns both within or outside the exclusion zone.

Areas as far north of Cairns will be tested over the coming months to ensure it hasn’t spread beyond the southeast.

Dr Thompson also confirmed there had been no positive tests for the disease along the Logan River since an eradication of farmed prawns in the area started in December 2016.

Originally published as White spot restricts Qld prawn farmers

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