NSW DPI has contained White Spot in an enclosed prawn facility in northern NSW.
The detection was confirmed by the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness.
Consumers are assured that White Spot does not pose a threat to human health or food safety. NSW seafood, including prawns, remains safe to eat.
Surveillance has been completed in wild prawn populations in the estuarine area and offshore from around the prawn facility, with no evidence of White Spot found. NSW has reaffirmed freedom from White Spot.
It is not known how White Spot entered the facility.
NSW DPI has been working closely with the affected farm, the seafood industry and other state and federal jurisdictions, to ensure containment and complete surveillance activities in wild prawns in the area
Further information can be found here
White Spot is highly contagious to prawns and can cause high rates of mortality in affected stock. Other crustaceans can be carriers of White Spot, but they are rarely impacted. White Spot poses no threat to human health or food safety.
White Spot spread through Asian prawn farming regions rapidly in the 1990s and established in farmed prawn in the Americas - causing widespread losses.
Signs of White Spot in aquaculture within tanks and ponds include:
Prawns may display:
For further information on the characteristics of White Spot see:
Prawns are safe to eat as White Spot does NOT pose any threat to human health or food safety.
In December 2016 White Spot was detected in farmed prawns in south-east Queensland. For details see www.outbreak.gov.au.
In August 2022 White Spot was detected in an enclosed facility at a prawn farm in northern NSW. NSW DPI acted quickly to issue formal biosecurity measures and worked closely with the farm to contain the detection within the facility. All prawns within the facility were destroyed and the facility was decontaminated. NSW DPI undertook surveillance of wild prawns in the estuarine area and offshore from the facility with no evidence of White Spot found. NSW has reaffirmed freedom from White Spot.
NSW DPI continues to work with other states, territories and the Australian Government to help minimise the risk of White Spot spreading.
NSW DPI has established a Control Order (PDF, 1575.22 KB) that places restrictions on the importation into NSW of any uncooked decapod crustaceans or polychaete worms from a designated area encompassing all affected areas in south-east Queensland. DPI has conducted annual surveillance of wild prawn populations in northern NSW since the outbreak in Queensland, with no evidence of White Spot in any of those samples tested.
White Spot is declared as Prohibited Matter under Schedule 2 of the Biosecurity Act 2015. This includes a duty to report the presence or suspected presence of White Spot at any place to NSW DPI and strictly prohibits any dealings with this biosecurity matter or associated carriers.
Other states have imposed different trade restrictions on uncooked prawns, decapod crustaceans and polychaete worms. Please check the relevant fisheries website - see www.outbreak.gov.au for more information.
If you suspect White Spot, call the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline: 1800 675 888
White Spot affects decapod crustaceans including prawns, crabs and lobsters. It is highly contagious to prawns and can cause high rates of mortality in affected prawn stock. White Spot is mainly a problem in farmed prawns and can be carried by other crustacean species.
It was the cause of significant mortality in prawn farms in south-east Queensland in 2016. It was detected and eradicated from an enclosed prawn facility in NSW in August 2022.
The detection was initially discovered within an enclosed facility at a prawn farm in northern NSW via routine testing and was confirmed by laboratory analysis on 23 August 2022.
Prior to this detection, White Spot had never been detected in NSW.
Since 2016, DPI has been conducting routine surveillance in NSW with no evidence of White Spot.
Recent surveillance completed on 7 September 2022 has found no evidence of White Spot in NSW wild prawn populations.
NSW has reaffirmed its freedom from White Spot status.
Tracing and surveillance activities have been undertaken to identify the source of the White Spot and how it got into NSW. This work is ongoing.
DPI has responded swiftly and has worked closely with the affected business, seafood industry and other state and federal jurisdictions to ensure rapid containment and management of the 23 August 2022 detection.
NSW DPI Authorised Officers have worked closely with the owners of the prawn facility and have overseen the destruction and disposal of all affected prawns in the facility. Decontamination activities were completed by 2 September 2022, to treat the site and stop any further spread.
NSW DPI is now working with the NSW prawn industry to improve biosecurity planning and preparedness.
The NSW Government has had movement restrictions in place to limit the risk of White Spot entering our state since it was first detected in Queensland.
Protocols are in place for prawn production facilities in NSW which allow for early detection, containment and eradication of aquatic health issues.
NSW DPI has completed surveillance of wild prawn populations in the estuarine and offshore areas of northern NSW where White Spot was detected and eradicated from a prawn facility.
There was no evidence of White Spot in any of these prawns.
White Spot could cause major impacts on the prawn farming community and associated industries on which many people rely to make a living.
This is why NSW DPI has worked closely with the business, industry and our state and federal counterparts in order to contain and manage this detection. Tracing and surveillance have been completed. There has been no evidence of White Spot in wild prawns sampled from estuarine and offshore waters nearby the facility and NSW has reaffirmed freedom from White Spot.
The early detection was possible due to the robust protocols in place for NSW prawn producing hatcheries.
Prawns may display:
Biosecurity is a shared responsibility and everybody plays a part in safeguarding Australia’s and NSW’s biosecurity, protecting our economy, environment and community and our reputation as a clean and safe producer of healthy seafood.
Any questions about or suspicions of White Spot should be directed to the Emergency Animal Disease 24-hour Hotline on 1800 675 888.