Alarming White Spot Virus Discovery – Williamson

NSW Nationals

Clarence Nationals MP Richie Williamson says the positive detection of large traces of the white spot virus in wild-caught school prawns south of Ballina is a further blow to the commercial fishing industry.

Mr Williamson says he understands the discovery of the white spot virus came from routine batch testing of wild-caught school prawns from the inshore ocean area south of Ballina off the Richmond River by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI)

“This is alarming as it is the first confirmed detection of white spot in wild school prawns in NSW directly collected from ocean waters, not associated with a white spot outbreak,” he said.

“It has the potential to wipe-out our local prawn industry.”

“I’m calling on the NSW Labor Government not to drag its heels on responding to this serious event and provide a support package to commercial fishers in the Ballina and Evans Head region that reflects the gravity of the situation.

“It needs to provide commercial fishers with the same level of support that was provided to those in the Clarence last year.

“The NSW Labor Government was slow to respond to the plight of Clarence commercial fishers who were on their knees last year, so it needs to act more swiftly this time around.

“It is also time for the Federal Labor Government to get serious about biosecurity measures to protect our shores from imported prawns.

“We have this bizarre situation where there is a control order on the movement of green prawns from one section within NSW, but the control order stops at the nation’s border, allowing the importation of raw prawns from white spot infected countries with only ‘batch testing’ occurring.

“Why the Federal Government continues to allow green prawns to be imported from countries where the disease is endemic beggars belief.”

Mr Williamson said he understood a new control zone will be established to cover the Richmond and Wilsons rivers, and ocean waters outside the mouth of the Richmond River.

This zone would restrict the movement of green (uncooked) school and king prawns and other decapod crustaceans to minimise risks of spread while further testing and investigations take place to determine if it is related to previous detections in Queensland and NSW.

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