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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin


    Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
    The Honourable Tim Mulherin

    Friday, November 24, 2006


    Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin today reissued his call for an interim ban on imported green prawns despite Biosecurity Australia releasing a revised risk analysis report for prawn and prawn products.

    “While the draft report released yesterday recommends stronger measures to manage quarantine risks posed by some prawn and prawn products, the risk of waiting a further 90 days for consultation, has become too great,’’ Mr Mulherin said from Christchurch, New Zealand.

    Mr Mulherin is in New Zealand to take part in the Primary Industries Ministerial Council being held today.

    “Over the past two years, the Queensland Government has been calling on the Australian Government to ban imported, green (uncooked) prawns to protect Australia’s fish and other marine stocks from the risk of disease,” Mr Mulherin said.

    “As part of our commitment to protecting the State’s industry, the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries initiated its own sampling and testing program for imported products.

    “Five batches of uncooked imported prawns purchased from a Queensland supermarket and recently tested for White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) and Taura Syndrome Virus (TSV).

    “Five prawns from each batch were tested. Five batches tested positive for WSSV and two batches tested positive for TSV.

    “As a consequence of those results, further samples were taken from different supermarkets in different locations.

    “Of the six further samples, all returned positive results to WSSV, and three of the six returned positive results to TSV.

    “These results will no doubt form the basis of our response to the IRA.

    “So while I welcome the conclusions in the report strengthening quarantine measures, action must be taken now.

    “The Australian Government through Biosecurity Australia and AQIS is responsible for guaranteeing that our industries are not endangered by imported products. They need to take these results and our recommendations very seriously.”

    Mr Mulherin said that due to a drastic reduction in price, the volume of prawns imported each year had increased by more than 120% between 2000/01 and 2004/05.

    “The increase in volume has been accompanied by an increase in the proportion of green prawns imported. While historically green prawns were a small proportion of total imported prawn volume, in 2005 the proportion grew to more than 68% of the total,” Mr Mulherin said.

    “The increased volume and decreased price of imported green prawns has further escalated the risk of spreading disease. Due to extremely low prices, imported green (uncooked) prawns can now be purchased at supermarkets for a cheaper price than bait.

    “While these prawn diseases will not harm humans, they have the potential to cause severe damage to the financial viability of the wild and farmed prawn industries.

    “If imported uncooked prawns are used as bait or berley by recreational fishers, diseases could be spread to our prawn stocks. Imported prawn food scraps dumped in creeks, rivers or the ocean will also threaten to infect native prawn stocks.

    “I encourage recreational fishers to use only Australian prawns as bait and to ensure that all prawn scraps are dumped in land-based refuse tips.”

    DPI&F officers will be meeting with industry to discuss the Queensland Government’s response to the risk analysis.

    Media: 32396530