The impacts of white spot disease (WSD) and its detection in late 2016 are still being felt across the harvest and post-harvest sectors in Moreton Bay.
A key learning from the incursion of WSD has been the degree to which industry was aware of and ready to respond was limited. The challenge remains to develop materials that will help industry be more aware of potential threats, how to communicate with government and how to manage their businesses in the contact of a disease incursion.
The aim of developing wild harvest fishery biosecurity plans and tool kit materials is to improve industry understanding and awareness of biosecurity issues. Specifically, the aim is to develop the necessary skills to become more aware of their general biosecurity obligations and responsibilities under the Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014, and to know what to do if industry suspect the presence of a major aquatic pest or disease.
Under section 23 of the Act - What is a general biosecurity obligation, subsections (1) and (2) state: (1) This section applies to a person who deals with biosecurity matter or a carrier, or carries out an activity, if the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the biosecurity matter, carrier or activity poses or is likely to pose a biosecurity risk and (2) The person has an obligation (a general biosecurity obligation) to take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent or minimise the biosecurity risk.
White Spot is a highly contagious viral infection that affects crustaceans such as prawns, crabs and yabbies. The virus does not affect fish or other marine animals. White Spot is primarily spread through the movement of infected animals or contaminated water. The disease often results in the high and rapid mortality of prawns in high intensity production environments such as prawn farms.
A widespread outbreak would have a significant impact on Australia's aquaculture and seafood industries. It would also impact on domestic and international trade as well as having environmental and social impacts.
QSIA applied for and received a grant from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
This grant is being provided through the Stronger Biosecurity and Quarantine Initiative (SBQI) which aims to enable the Australian Government to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity preparedness and response capability for exotic pest and disease incursions.
The purpose of the grant is to increase the preparedness of Queensland’s wild harvest seafood industry through the appointment of a Biosecurity and Industry Liaison Officer (BILO), development of an industry biosecurity plan and the development of an industry communication tool kit to educate the industry on biosecurity issues.
This project is supported by the Queensland Seafood Industry Association, through funding from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Dr Diggles is the Managing Director, DigsFish Services Pty Ltd. He provides independent aquatic animal health consulting service for the fisheries and aquaculture industries in New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the South Pacific. His core business includes import risk analysis, biosecurity risk analysis, environmental risk assessments and environmental management systems, aquatic animal welfare and disease diagnosis.
The main aim of developing a tool kit is to improve industry biosecurity awareness to assist commercial fishers and processors develop the necessary skills to identify major aquatic pests and diseases. The development of the tool kit includes:
Additional information materials are available including:
Biosecurity is becoming a more critical issue for industry. The material developed under the SBQI grant has allowed industry to access a ready source of materials on a range of biosecurity matters.
A series of information products has been developed using White Spot as an example:
The aim of the plan is to enhance the ability of Queensland’s wild harvest seafood industry to prepare for, identify, mitigate the impact of and respond to future biosecurity incidents by:
To learn more about the range of diseases of aquatic animals of significance to Australia, download the Aquatic Disease Field Guide App that is available for iOS, android and windows devices at the following locations: