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Flaws in biosecurity put South East prawning industries at risk


The Beagle Editor,

Earlier this year, seeing the sign below advising people buying green prawns at a supermarket not to use them for bait , I am disappointed to learn there are still raw green prawns from China for sale in our Australian supermarkets.


This is high risk for our prawn industry, due to potential contamination of our estuaries with various diseases such as white spot in prawns. On 4 Corners on ABC TV tonight they are running a report on Asian green prawns for sale as a bio-security risk in Australia. I encourage Beagle readers to watch it. My letter to the Editors on this subject was published in the Beagle and the Bay Post on 25 April and a copy sent to local Federal members. A reply from Senator Ruston was received soon after. It was refreshing to receive a lengthy reply however the bio-security risk is still there. I personally do not trust 'testing' fresh produce in foreign countries exporting to Australia. The testing regime in Australia depends on too many variables such as location of test sample, time taken to test , is the product sold before test results are provided ? The Senator says " The govt will only allow imports where the science says it is safe to do so". I am keen to hear what the 'science says' and hope for a ban on imports of raw green prawn to protect our waterways from prawn viruses such as white spot disease. It appears the government is more concerned with protecting foreign corporate profits than the Australian prawn industry and estuarine health. The government should adopt the safe and wise Precautionary Principle ie: if there is unacceptable risk, don't do it.

It is cheaper to buy a few of these prawns at the supermarket for bait, rather than Australian bait, put some on a hook and throw into a waterway for fishing. There is a sign on the price label "not to be used as bait”, which is absurd if this is what our government Quarantine Authority considers front-line defence in biosecurity for Australian waterways.

The useless sign also gives people the idea of using the prawns as bait. Freezing or chilling any meat product does not kill viruses or bacteria; they just go to sleep and wake up in one of our rivers ready to multiply and contaminate local marine life.

There has already been expensive closures of prawn farms on the North Coast due to white spot disease. It is especially dangerous to our agricultural industry to import any raw meat/egg/dairy product (also fruit and vegetables).

Our government has a vital role to protect Australian agriculture rather than the profits of foreign export corporations. I have contacted federal and state MPs requesting an immediate ban on the import of green prawns.

Gary Smith Moruya

Above: Garry Smith talking about imported green prawns and their risk to local prawning industries

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