PRAWN farmers around the south-east are breathing a little easier after latest round of surveillance tests showed no signs of the dreaded White Spot disease.
It’s been more than two and a half years since the virus devastated the big prawn farms on the Logan River, destroying almost all of their stocks.
Biosecurity Queensland took prawn and marine worm samples from a number of locations within Moreton Bay, Logan and Brisbane Rivers and all returned negative results.
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Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said it was great news for the industry and its employment prospects.
“This is the second consecutive surveillance round conducted by my department which has returned negative results for the virus that causes white spot disease,” Mr Furner said.
“If another round of tests next year is negative Queensland and Australia would be declared free of white spot disease.
“But this means everyone must continue to remain vigilant to ensure the disease is contained and does not spread.
“I thank the industry for its resilience and patience during this hard time, and the general community, especially recreational fishers for heeding our messages and helping stop the spread of the disease.”
Australian Prawn Farmers Association President Matt West said all his members have their fingers crossed hoping the white spot outbreak is over.
“Affected businesses have gone through a lot of financial and mental stress with our Logan farms having to shut down for lengthy periods with the sole purpose of eradicating the disease,” Mr West said.
“Everyone has done an amazing job, but we’ve had a wake-up call to remain vigilant, not just for white spot but other diseases coming into the country.
“It’s imperative we boost exotic disease testing regimes at our borders to prevent any other major disease outbreaks.
“An end to the white spot disease outbreak would be very good result indeed, not only for the Logan farmers but Queensland’s prawn farming industry, which is currently enjoying a considerable, state-wide, expansionary phase.
“Established aquaculture companies and major new entrants are spending millions and millions of dollars expanding their farms or constructing some new large-scale operations.
“There’s such unlimited demand for our prawns. Seafood suppliers take everything we can produce.”
Three of Seven Logan prawn farms restocked their ponds last summer and the biggest operator and harvested around 421 tonnes of their much sought-after prawns. Although well down on prior to the disease outbreak, production is set to double again later this year.
The battling Logan prawn farmers got another much-needed boost after the owners of Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture won the prestigious Champion Prawn and the Champion Aquaculture Product Trophy at the Sydney Royal Show, which sets the quality bench mark for all Australian seafood.