August 10, 2018:
The ABC reports that until recently, Australia had been free of
the deadly white spot prawn disease which is harmless to people but
has the potential to wipe out both farmed and wild prawns.
Quarantine border checks were intended to prevent the disease from
being imported in raw prawns.
The ABC reports that, despite an outbreak of the disease in
Queensland in 2016 documented by Four Corners,
the Federal government had not revealed that two of 101 retail
samples taken from Melbourne and Sydney retail outlets in May and
June 2018 returned strong positives for white spot disease,
while another four returned weak positives. In 2016, seven prawn
farms at Logan, near the Gold Coast, had to destroy all their
In contrast, when white spot was confirmed in 2016 in the wild
in Moreton Bay, after quarantine regulations were tightened, the
Queensland Government imposed a movement restriction order for raw
wild caught prawns, crustaceans and marine worms between Caloundra
and the New South Wales border.
In December 2017 a report by Australia's inspector-general of
biosecurity, Dr Helen Scott-Orr, found a major biosecurity failure
likely led to the 2016 outbreak. More than a $100 million of
taxpayer money has since been spent on compensation, clean-up,
monitoring and increased border security.
Containers of imported prawns are now required to be tested for
the virus at the country of origin and again when they reach
Australia, but the recent Melbourne and Sydney evidence shows this
may not be effective.
The ABC reports that the Queensland Seafood Industry Association
believes the differences between the response from the state and
federal governments boiled down to international trade.
"Unfortunately our industry has been sacrificed on that altar of
trade and it's never been good enough, said the Association
spokesperson, Mr Eric Perez.
If we put restrictions on then suddenly, 'Oh well you export to
our countries, what if we put restrictions on what you export out'
so it is a trade issue," Mr Perez sai...