Control zone for White Spot extended to Richmond River

28 May 2024

White spot syndrome virus (WSSV) has been detected by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in wild-caught school prawns (Metapenaeus macleay) from the Richmond River offshore area.

Prawn samples were sent for testing to DPI Elizabeth Macarthur Agriculture Institute (EMAI) and returned a positive result for WSSV. The result was confirmed by the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness on Saturday 25 May.

This second detection comes after WSSV was confirmed in wild-caught school prawns from the inshore ocean area near Evans Head on 8 May.

NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Jo Coombe said an amended Biosecurity Control Order has now come into effect, which has extended the control zone to take in the location of the new detection.

“NSW DPI has responded quickly to this new detection from the Richmond River area,” Dr Coombe said.

“Yesterday the Biosecurity Control Order was amended to encompass the waters of the Richmond and Evans Rivers and adjacent ocean waters 10km north of the Richmond River mouth to 10km south of the Evans River mouth.

“The control zone rules remain the same, with restrictions on the movement of green (uncooked) school and king prawns and other decapod crustaceans (excluding mud, blue swimmer, three spot and spanner crabs, lobsters, and bugs), and beach and other polycheate worms out of the area, to minimise risks of spread.”

“Genomic testing will be critical to understanding the detections and to informing the longer-term management approach.

“Considered, appropriate and efficient management actions will need to be taken once results of whole genome sequencing are available and after discussions have taken place at a national level,” Dr Coombe said.

"Decisions about the future overall management of White Spot in NSW will be informed through consultation with industry, technical expertise and national discussions.”

The NSW Government is working hand-in-hand with commercial fishers and prawn farmers in the region, and actions taken in response to this detection will be done in collaboration and regular communication with directly affected industry stakeholders.

Consumers are reminded that White Spot does not pose a threat to human health or food safety. NSW seafood, including prawns, remains safe to eat.

The amended Biosecurity Control Order can be found on the DPI website at

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