The importation of green prawns into Australia will be suspended following an outbreak of white spot disease in Queensland, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has announced.
Since November, there have been four farmers with white spot incursions, spread across five properties on the Logan River, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
It was the first time the disease, which kills prawns but is harmless to humans, was discovered in Australia.
Mr Joyce said about $50 million worth of green prawns were imported annually.
“Yesterday … I was told that they are detecting white spot in imported green prawns that you buy in the shop for human consumption,” Mr Joyce said.
“But that, for me, is a huge concern.”
Mr Joyce said he was worried those prawns would be used as bait.
“It means they get into the waterways, it means it can infect prawn farms.”
Mr Joyce said one prawn importer has already had their capacity to import revoked.
“Now we are also investigating another – a number of other prawn importers, because there is the suspicion that they have not followed the proper protocols, they have been outside the protocols, which is the law of the land on how you import prawns into this country,” he said.
Australian Prawn Farmers Association’s Nick Moore said he supported the ban.
“I do know it [the disease] comes from Asia and certainly the Americas and the importation of raw prawns into Australia was a vector that we’ve been highlighting from the Australian prawn association for many years,” he said.
“While I absolutely applaud the Government’s stance on it right now, it would have been nice a couple of years ago.”