A NSW Government website

Important information for recreational fishers - use of prawns as bait

An outbreak of White Spot in farmed prawns in South East Queensland is a reminder to people fishing in Australia’s waters not to use prawns meant for human consumption as bait.

Prawns purchased from supermarkets and other food outlets could spread the virus.

We need help from Australia’s fishing community to ensure that the virus that causes white spot is not introduced to waterways through infected prawns. Outbreaks of white spot can have devastating impacts on aquaculture businesses and potentially harm popular commercial and recreational fishing areas.

To find out about the restrictions on the use of prawns as bait in your state or territory, check with your Department of Primary Industries or Fisheries.

White Spot

White Spot is a highly contagious viral disease of crustaceans, including prawns, crabs and lobsters. The disease is caused by white spot syndrome virus which has been detected in some imported uncooked prawns. White spot can cause mass mortality in farmed prawns and is easily spread. Freezing prawns does NOT kill the virus.

Consumer safety

Prawns are safe to eat as white spot does not pose a threat to human health or food safety.

Report suspect bait

Check your bait for signs of white spot. If you suspect that your bait may be affected, do not use it or dispose of it, and phone the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline from anywhere in Australia on 1800 675 888.

You will be connected to your department of primary industries or fisheries and provided with further advice. There are no penalties for reporting. Early detection and reporting provides us with the best chance of eradicating this serious disease.

You can also help by not disposing of prawn waste (heads and shells) in or near waterways. This waste should be sent to landfill as part of your normal household rubbish.

More information

If you would like more information about white spot or national response activities visit  www.outbreak.gov.au.

The key messages regarding White Spot and bait use presented here are also available in a brochure translated into seven languages including:

  • Simplified Chinese
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Khmer
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Arabic

Download Brochure (PDF, 2.03 MB)