Help keep white spot out of WA

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Recreational fishers should not use as bait any imported uncooked prawns or other crustaceans intended for human consumption.

RECREATIONAL fishers from Yanchep and Lancelin are being asked to do their bit to prevent the viral disease white spot being introduced into Western Australia.

The highly contagious viral disease, which affects crustaceans is not known to be present in WA, but a widespread outbreak could pose a serious threat to crustaceans including prawns, crabs, lobsters and marron.

The fisheries division of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development said since December 2016 white spot had been detected on prawn farms and in the aquatic environment in south east Queensland.

In order to protect WA the state government has in place a prohibition on the entry of all live and uncooked crustaceans and worms from parts of QLD and NSW (see map).

A fisheries division spokesman said the measures complimented the Australian Government’s recent introduction of increased import conditions, including white spot testing, following the lapsing of the six-month suspension on all overseas imports of uncooked prawns. Senior biosecurity management officer Marion Massam said the strategies were aimed at safeguarding WA’s fisheries and all fishers were being urged to support the efforts to keep white spot out. “Recreational fishers, for example, must not use as bait any imported uncooked prawns or other crustaceans intended for human consumption,” she said.

“Some fishers might be tempted to buy such prawns as bait, but it’s not worth taking the risk.

“When you weigh this up against the potential loss of prized catches like prawns and marron, if white spot was introduced to our state, it’s an easy decision to talk to your local bait supplier about alternative baits or even better only buy locally caught WA bait.”

Fishers should check their bait prawns or other crustaceans for signs of white spot and any thought to have the disease should be retained and immediately reported to the FishWatch hotline, which operates 24 hours a day, on 1800 815 507.

More information, such as frequently asked questions for recreational fishers and WA’s crustacean import restrictions can be found on the fisheries website: http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Sustainability-and-Environment/AquaticBiosecurity/Pages/Biosecurity-Incidents.aspx