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Whitespot Found in Imported Shrimp


Australia banned imports of raw shrimp in January 2017, a month after whitespot destroyed the shrimp farming industry on the Logan River.  Shrimp farmers suspect the disease spread from imported shrimp that were used as bait by recreational fishermen.  Australia’s Department of Agriculture conceded it would probably never know how the disease entered the country, and five months ago allowed imports—with more stringent regulations—to resume.


More than 130 shrimp shipments have been imported under the new controls with three testing positive for whitespot.  More than 30 consignments have not yet been tested.


Logan River shrimp farmer Serena Zipf, who was forced to destroy all the shrimp on her farm earlier this year, said she was concerned importers would attempt to exploit biosecurity loopholes.  “We fully suspected that the importers would test the boundaries and test the new system and see whether they could revert to their happy old practices of using Australia as a dumping ground,” she said.


A Senate investigation into the outbreak exposed massive breaches of biosecurity at the border, and the department has commenced prosecution against one importer with two other cases waiting for an assessment from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.


An Agriculture Department spokesman said the detections showed the enhanced biosecurity measures were working.  “The results support the effectiveness of biosecurity measures that have been implemented by the department,” he said.  “The department has written to the competent authorities of the countries of export, advising of the positive test result and requesting that the circumstances that resulted in (whitespot) positive shrimp being sent to Australia be investigated.”


Shrimp farmer Zipf credited the department for tightening regulations, but said it was vital anyone purposely breaching biosecurity was prosecuted to “send a very clear message that this will no longer go unpunished.  All the good work of the government can be undone if one single consignment gets into the waterways again,” she said.


Australian Prawn Farmers Association President Matt West said the positive tests were “concerning” and highlighted the importance of testing 100 percent of all consignments at Australia’s borders.  “Part of the new enhanced import conditions requires countries sending the shrimp certifying the consignment is free of whitespot, and three consignments have failed this,” he said.  “It is heartening to know however that government has identified and stopped these consignments from passing through our borders.”


Source: CourierMail.  Raw Prawns Test Positive to White Spot Disease Since Import Ban Lifted.  Michael Wray.  November 29, 2017.


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