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Aussie prawn industry in turmoil as disease spreads

Rachel Ralte
14 February 2017, at 12:00am

Australian prawn farmers are in turmoil, as yet another outbreak of white spot disease was confirmed Monday, at a farm in Queensland.

The disease is a highly infectious viral infection that affects crustaceans, leaving them marked with small spots, and killing off vast swathes of the prawn stock in farms.

"This is the largest emergency aquatic animal disease response ever in Queensland," said Queensland Biosecurity chief biosecurity officer Jim Thompson.

Prawn farming was a A$413 million business last year, and employs over 5,000 people, yet the latest outbreak, one of many in the past few months, threatens to put the whole industry in doubt.

Serena Zipf, the owner of the farm that tested positive on Tuesday, told ABC Radio that she is concerned about not only her future, but the future of every prawn farmer in the country.

"The entire prawn industry is affected as of today," Ms Zipf said.

Ms Zipf went on to stress that farmers had been treated with contempt by authorities, and warned that the safeguards and assistance being suggested was based on "old science".

But Mr Thompson says treatment had started on the Zipf farm, and assured all other farmers affected that they will be able to get back to work sometime this year.

Further Reading

Find out more information on White Spot Disease by clicking here.