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Plain English Guide for the Biosecurity (White Spot Disease – Clarence River) Control Order 2023

What does the Biosecurity Control Order 2023 (White Spot Disease – Clarence River) mean to me?

This guide is to help all commercial and recreational users of the Clarence River and its fisheries to understand their legislative requirements in waterways of the lower Clarence River, over the duration of the Control Order: from 9 June 2023 for a period of two years.

What is white spot disease?

White spot disease is caused by a highly contagious virus that infects prawns, crabs, yabbies, lobsters and beach worms (crustaceans and polychaete worms). It can have significant impacts on the production of farmed prawns and presence of the disease impacts trade of wild caught prawns.

White spot disease, if not controlled, managed or eradicated will have a significant impact on the community, environment and economy.

What is a Control Order?A Control Order allows government to manage serious biosecurity risks by requiring certain things to be done, or not done. It is a legal document and penalties apply for not following the Control Order.
Why is there a Control Order for the Clarence River?White spot disease has been found on 3 prawn farms near the Clarence River. Action has been taken on these properties to minimise the risk of white spot spreading, and this Control Order guides all people in actions they must take to protect the Clarence River and the rest of NSW from white spot disease.
I am a commercial fisher, recreational fisher or recreational user of the Clarence River. Does the Control Order apply to me?

Yes.  It doesn’t matter if you use the Clarence River for business or pleasure the control order applies to EVERYONE who catches, handles or uses the following animals:

  • Prawns - including school, tiger and banana prawns
  • Yabbies - nippers and shrimp used as fishing bait
  • Lobsters and Moreton bay bugs - often wild caught for human consumption
  • Crabs - Blue Swimmer, Mud, Hermit, three spotted etc
  • Beach worms
Where does this Control Order apply?This Control Order covers the Clarence River Control Zone highlighted in red in the below map:
Clarence River Control Map
What animals are affected by white spot disease and included in the Control Order?
  • Prawns - including school, tiger and banana prawns
  • Yabbies - nippers and shrimp used as fishing bait
  • Lobsters and Moreton Bay bugs - often wild caught for human consumption
  • Crabs - Blue Swimmer, Mud, Hermit, three spotted etc
  • Marine/ Beach worms - Polychaete worms including those used as fishing bait
Can I move any of these animals out of the control zone during the life of the control order?

Excluded carriers – the control order allows you to move some species of animals (e.g. blue swimmer crab, mud crab, rock lobster) out of the control zone if they are for human consumption and they are cooked as soon as possible on arrival.

Other animals described above (either living or dead) that are caught in the control zone cannot be moved, out of the control zone unless it is for commercial sale and they have been cooked before it is moved out the control zone.

Can I pass through the control zone with animals caught or bought from somewhere else?

Yes – the control zone applies to the waters of the area, so if you are passing through by road then the movement of the animals will not be caught by the control order.

If you are a commercial driver and you stop in the control zone to pick up animals, you can leave the control zone with product already on your truck.

Is commercially available bait safe to use?Commercially available bait that has been treated to ensure no white spot disease is present is safe to use and move out of the control zone provided it has not been in contact with the natural waterways in the control zone.
Can I still fish in the Control Zone?Yes – the Control Order only applies to the animals listed in this guide – all other fish are fair game provided they are within NSW Fisheries size and bag limits – just be careful with the rules about bait outlined in this guide.
Do I need to clean my boat after being in the Control Zone?It is recommended that all watercraft is cleaned before moving it to another waterway/ water body to reduce the risk of any disease or pest spreading. It’s good for your equipment too!
What about the white spot disease in Queensland?After white spot disease was found in Queensland in 2016, a control zone was established from Caloundra to the Gold Coast, and inland to Ipswich. No uncooked prawns or beach worms can be moved from this area to anywhere in NSW.