The ABC headlines:
Agriculture department accused of ‘dropping the ball’ as new figures show higher rates of diseased prawn imports.
In effect, the article (see link) states that the government was irresponsible in not alerting prawn farmers of the fact that a significant proportion of imported prawns are a major threat to local producers.
The APFA’s executive officer, Helen Jenkins, has also accused the department of “failing in its duty of care” to protect the industry from the major biosecurity risk, white spot disease (WSD).
Now seven (7) Queensland prawn farms have succumbed, and there have been multiple detections in the wild, in Logan River, and more recently, in Moreton Bay. The picture could be worse if it’s not contained soon, and if we’re not utilising all the resources we have available.
This virus is highly contagious, causes massive mortalities, and can infect virtually all kinds of crustaceans. Could they wipe out the Moreton Bay bugs? How about the rock lobster fishery? Marron, yabbies and gilgies? How about our endangered giant freshwater lobster? Yes, yes, yes, yes…
Just imagine if the we were allowed to import meats known to be infected with the highly contagious Foot-and-mouth disease! The Australian government has now imposed a ban on raw prawn products, conducting thorough testing. But is it all a little too late… for the six affected prawn farms…? And if the disease is established in Australia, it is too late for the nation’s prawn farms.
This WSSV disease would likely set back Western Australia’s extensive prawn farming venture in Project Sea Dragon. It would scare off the investors. They may have to reconsider their options, and on how they can achieve better biosecurity than their Queensland counterparts.
We’ve been a “lucky country” for a long time now. But this luck is running out, and we need to be turning to people with firsthand experience in handling this outbreak.
The Australian Prawn Farmers Association is taking court action on the Australian Government (see article link).
The traditional Australian expression comes to my mind: “Don’t come the raw prawn!” or “Don’t come the raw prawn with me!” is very fitting.