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Uncooked prawn imports: Effectiveness of biosecurity controls

Scott-Orr, H., Jones, B.ORCID: 0000-0002-0773-2007 and Bhatia, N. (2017) Uncooked prawn imports: Effectiveness of biosecurity controls. Australian Government. Inspector-General of Biosecurity, Canberra.

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On 17 February 2017 I advised the Hon. Barnaby Joyce, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, of my intention to review:

• circumstances leading to the 6 January 2017 suspension of uncooked prawn imports into Australia, and

• biosecurity considerations relevant to future trade in uncooked prawns.

The suspension followed initial investigations into the source of an outbreak of the previously exotic white spot disease (WSD) in prawn farms and wild crustacean populations near the Logan River, in south-east Queensland.

WSD is caused by white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) infection of crustaceans. It is not of concern to human health. However, it is one of the most severe diseases of farmed prawns, especially the valuable black tiger prawn Penaeus monodon farmed in Australia. WSD can kill up to 100 per cent of prawns in a pond within two to five days of the first signs of disease. Since its emergence in China in 1992, WSSV has become endemic in all countries with prawn aquaculture industries, except New Caledonia and Australia, costing at least US$1 billion a year.

On 21 March 2017 the Senate, through its Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee, finalised terms of reference of an inquiry into ‘Biosecurity risks associated with the importation of seafood and seafood products (including uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat) into Australia’. The committee held public hearings and published its final report on 31 October 2017.

On 6 July 2017 the suspension of uncooked prawn imports lapsed. By this time, the Director of Biosecurity had put in place alternative import conditions for selected prawn products from specified countries. Implementation was underway when this report was being prepared.

Public submissions to both my review and the Senate inquiry have been published. The information summarised in my report is drawn from these documents and from the findings of my field work and internal inquiries at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Item Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Series Name: Inspector-General of Biosecurity. Review report No. 2017-18/01
Publisher: Australian Government. Inspector-General of Biosecurity
Copyright: © 2017 Commonwealth of Australia
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