Published: 17 March 2017
Prawns have been infected with a disease, but are they still safe to eat?
Some gleaming, disease-free prawns.
Image © 2016 AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Authorities plan to test prawn farms all the way up the Queensland coastline in their fight against the highly contagious white spot disease, the state's chief biosecurity officer says.
Queensland Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne said the movement control zone would be enforced for three months and applied to Moreton Bay, from Caloundra to the NSW border and inland past Ipswich.
It followed the detection of 31 prawns infected with the virus in Moreton Bay near the Redcliffe Peninsula and Deception Bay, north of Brisbane.
Samples have already been drawn from 3000 prawns and there are plans to test along the state's coastline to see if the disease has taken root anywhere else, Dr Jim Thompson told ABC Radio on Friday.
"We're now going to move up the coast and work with commercial fishers to get samples all the way up the coast," he said.
"We'll go right to the top, where the industry operates and where the prawn farms are situated."
The movement control zone is expected to be enforced for three months and applies to Moreton Bay, from Caloundra to the NSW border and inland past Ipswich.
The detection of the virus comes after industry and government figures expressed concern about rules set by Canberra allowing the importation of green prawns in the past.
Dr Thompson said the decision to ban the importation of green prawns in January was "probably an indication" those rules weren't strong enough.
White spot disease is primarily spread through the movement of infected animals, birds who feed on them and water.
Moreton Bay Seafood Association vice president Michael Wood told AAP the restrictions could be devastating for the local industry.
Mr Wood said it was critical for customers to know their products were safe and the disease was harmless to humans.
It was a point reiterated by Bill Byrne, who said it was the reputation of the industry at stake.
"There is absolutely no risk whatsoever to human consumption of a white spot-diseased product," he said, referring to the fact the disease is killed when cooked.
The movement control order means people can still fish in Moreton Bay but are forbidden from removing crustaceans or marine worms from the area unless they're cooked.
We can only hope that this prawn situation sorts itself out before Christmas.