NSW DPI is working hard to keep prawns free of white spot disease.
NSW DPI is working hard to keep prawns free of white spot disease. Alistair Brightman

Authorities continue tests on prawns for white spot disease

IT'S the festive season and you know what that means - delicious, fresh prawns.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is working hard this summer to ensure the state remains free of white spot disease.

The disease was detected in prawns in south-east Queensland last year, and it is a "highly contagious viral disease" of crustaceans, mainly prawns, but also crabs, lobsters and freshwater crayfish, as well as marine worms, can carry the virus.

But DPI's manager of aquatic biosecurity, Juliet Corish, said everyone could help to protect our waterways.

"This summer we are calling on the community to help play a role in keeping white spot out of NSW, which is especially important when there is more activity on our waterways during the holiday season," she said.

"Prawns are safe to eat. White spot disease does not pose a threat to human health or food safety.

"It is crucial that people fishing, crabbing or trapping yabbies in any of our waterways, do not use prawns intended for human consumption as bait, as this might spread the virus to new areas.

"We want to make sure everyone is aware of movement restrictions that apply in certain areas of south east Queensland to prevent further spread."

Ms Corish said DPI was continuing to test prawns from both estuary regions and ocean haul zones along the NSW coastline.

"We will continue to conduct testing on our prawns in NSW through ongoing surveillance and sampling," Ms Corish said.

Tips to stop white spot disease:

  • Prawns and other seafood meant for human consumption must not be used as bait. Although safe for human consumption, they have the potential to spread diseases to aquatic animals when used as bait.
  • Dispose of all prawn, seafood and bait waste in the bin - not in your local waterway.
  • Make 'clean' part of your routine! Keep your fishing gear, boat and trailer clean. Use soapy water and allow to dry completely before re-use in another location

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