White spot in prawns the latest in biosecurity failures highlighting impact of cuts to staff, research
By Sarina Locke
Posted February 20, 2017 12:36:39
After a huge increase in exotic pests and diseases, Australian agriculture and environmentalists are demanding more focus on biosecurity.
The past five years of failures ranges from the attacking red fire ants, banana diseases, myrtle rust and a melon disease to an exotic disease in Queensland's prawn farms.
Global movement of goods and people is partly to blame, but the blame is also being levelled at reduced spending and staff cutbacks by state and federal governments.
White spot destroys prawn farms
It has taken less than three months for white spot disease to infect all seven prawn farms on the Logan River in Queensland, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
A devastated Serena Zipf watched authorities sterilise her the ponds with chlorine.
"What happens after this is that we have to assess what future we have, if any, in this industry," she said.
While white spot is harmless to people, it has now wiped out all prawn farms in south-east Queensland — the farms have a combined sale value of $25 million.
The area supplies a third of Australia's farmed prawns.
Authorities have traced the disease back to imported frozen Asian prawns.
Despite that, it took two months from the first outbreak in November for the Federal Government to ban imports of these prawns.
That angered the industry, which said it had warned authorities about the risk for decades.