Prawn bans on the nose

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
2 March 2007, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - A bottle of fancy bubbly, or 1kg of prawns to whack on the barbie?

That's the expensive choice Australians may have to make if proposed quarantine laws go ahead, say seafood importers. They warn prawn prices could skyrocket to $80kg as the strict proposals put half Australia's prawn supply in jeopardy.

The Federal Government's quarantine watchdog, Biosecurity Australia, is revising its import risk assessment on prawns from countries including Vietnam, China and Thailand.

The draft changes, released last November, ban whole green prawns from being imported and require all prawns with the head and shells removed to be tested for viruses and bacteria.

None of the diseases is toxic to humans.

Tough quarantine controls will also apply to imported cooked prawns.

Australians eat 40,000 tonnes of prawns a year, and half are imported.

Prawn shortages because of expensive testing and strict rules will mean the death of the prawn cutlet and cheap sweet and sour prawns, said Seafood Importers Association of Australia chairman Harry Peters.

"I think raw prawns will go to $50 to $60kg, for sure," he said.

"At Christmas time they pay $45 for cooked prawns now so it's not beyond the realms that people will pay $70 or $80 for raw if they really want it."

Submissions on the issue closed last week, with some claiming the drastic drop in supply could push prices to $100kg.

Source: Herald Sun