White spot under biosecurity management in NSW prawn farm

16 Feb 2023

White spot has been detected at a prawn facility in northern NSW and confirmed by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) tests.

White spot is a highly contagious viral infection affecting crustaceans, which can cause major mortalities in farmed prawns, but poses no threat to human health and safety.

NSW Chief Veterinary Officer, Sarah Britton, said the affected property followed biosecurity protocols and immediately reported their detection to the department.

“NSW DPI acted swiftly to work with the farm to contain and manage white spot,” Dr Britton said.

“Biosecurity teams are undertaking tracing and surveillance to identify the source and pathway of white spot into NSW.

“DNA sequencing from the ACDP will determine if this detection matches any previous white spot samples.

“As a precaution, a short-term control order has been issued to restrict the movement of raw, uncooked green prawns from the Clarence Estuary.”

NSW DPI is working closely with commercial fishers, the bait industry and prawn farmers to manage the impact of this order while investigations are underway.

NSW Government movement restrictions have been in place to limit the risk of white spot entering NSW since it was first detected in south-east Queensland in 2016.

Dr Britton said there was no indication the virus has spread beyond the affected farm.

“Importantly, NSW prawns remain safe for human consumption and consumers can continue to purchase NSW prawns from local seafood suppliers,” she said.

“NSW DPI takes biosecurity matters like these extremely seriously and we will continue to work closely with industry to minimise disruption.”

White spot was first detected in NSW in August 2022 at another prawn facility and was contained and eradicated from the enclosed hatchery in September that year.

More information is available from NSW DPI, https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aquatic-biosecurity/pests-diseases/animal-health/aquaculture/white-spot

Media contact: 02 6391 3686 or email: nswdpi.media@.nsw.gov.au