‘Nearly half’ of imported raw prawns were infected with white spot disease, senators hear

Australian Agriculture Department officials have estimated that nearly half of all imported raw prawns were infected with white spot disease before imports were suspended in January.
The officials told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra on Wednesday that six importers supplied “the vast majority” of the contaminated prawns.

The Department has since revoked their import permits and approvals.

Australian Agriculture Department officials have estimated that nearly half of all imported raw prawns were infected with white spot disease before imports were suspended in January.
The officials told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra on Wednesday that six importers supplied “the vast majority” of the contaminated prawns.
The Department has since revoked their import permits and approvals.
What is white spot virus?

 Prawn with white spot disease

White spot disease in prawns is highly contagious, lethal to crustaceans and has reduced prawn farm productivity by up to 40 per cent overseas.
“We have made a referral to the CDPP [Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions], to pursue charges and further referrals are being considered,” the Department’s head of biosecurity, Lyn O’Connell, told Estimates.
Contaminated raw prawn imports have been blamed for an outbreak of white spot in Queensland’s Logan River and Moreton Bay.
Logan River prawn farms will remain shut down for one year, in an effort to contain the outbreak.
While departmental officials said the source of the outbreak may never be known, they are still working on the assumption the virus can be eradicated.
Testing failed detection

LNP Senator Barry O’Sullivan said the outbreak “represents a catastrophic collapse” of Australia’s biosecurity arrangements and the so-called risk-based approach to raw prawn imports which involved testing a percentage of prawns at the border.
Agriculture Department investigations revealed that a number of importers engaged in the “deliberate subversion” of those processes, including deliberately mislabelling prawns as other product to avoid testing.
Investigations also revealed that white spot testing at the border failed to properly detect infected prawns.
Under more sensitive testing at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, a large percentage of raw prawns that were initially cleared at the border were subsequently found to be infected with white spot.
“The estimation that we have is that nearly half of the prawns imported into Australia were positive for white spot syndrome,” departmental official Tim Chapman told the senators.
“Obviously it is unacceptable to us.”
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce announced in May that the Commonwealth Government would allocate $20 million to prawn farmers in the Logan River, who must cease farming for 12 months.
Some of that will be paid back by the prawn farming industry through an agreed levy on production.
But Labor’s shadow agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon accused Mr Joyce of being “missing in action” on the issue.
“He saw political opportunity in Johnny Depp’s dogs, an issue that was already being adequately handled by the department, but when it comes to this serious biosecurity breach which is so seriously impacting on prawn farmers in this country, Barnaby Joyce is nowhere to be seen,” he told Parliament.

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-05-24/white-spot-prawn-estimates-half-prawn-imports-infected/8554826

One Comment Add yours

  1. Lyn says:

    How niave we are to think others play by our rules – SLOPPY SYSTEMS!!!! Stop these gross invasions of our food security. When we lose our reputation as a clean green growing environment we join the rest of the world that sells rubbish. Our reputation of quality has been built over many generations by our people. Slack import rules show the ultimate in disrespect for our people and lack of interest in our future.

    Like

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