Recreational fishers and white spot

White spot update

As of 16 June 2017, a new white spot biosecurity regulation (PDF, 967KB) has come into effect that maintains movement restrictions for high-risk animals such as prawns, yabbies and marine worms out of the white spot restricted area that extends from Caloundra to the NSW border.

Under the regulation an exemption now exists for low-risk species such as crabs, lobster and bugs. They can now be moved out of the restricted area raw, however anyone wishing to move these species interstate must check the importation requirements of the destination state before doing so.

Visit our frequently asked questions page or download the white spot information guide (PDF, 2.3MB) for further details on white spot and movement restrictions.

Movement restrictions

To reduce the likelihood of white spot spreading, movement restrictions are in place. This means that raw prawns, yabbies and marine worms cannot be removed from the restricted area which extends from Caloundra to the New South Wales border, following a line 100 metres off the eastern coasts of Bribie, Moreton and Stradbroke Islands.

Crustaceans, other than those exempt, caught in the restricted area must stay within the area, unless they are cooked first, as cooking destroys the virus that causes white spot.

The movement restrictions also apply to frozen, uncooked crustaceans as freezing does not destroy the virus.

The following items must not be removed from the restricted zone unless cooked first:

  • Prawns
  • Yabbies
  • Marine worms

Penalties may apply to anyone who breaches these restrictions.

Bait prawns (including freshly caught) sourced from outside the restricted area can be used, however, once brought into the restricted area, they cannot be moved back out.

To ensure the ongoing health of our marine habitat, fishers should only use Australian wild-caught prawns as bait purchased from a local bait supplier. Imported, uncooked prawns may pose a risk for the introduction of exotic diseases such as white spot.

Exemption for crabs, lobsters and bugs

Crabs, lobsters and bugs are exempt from the movement restrictions and can be taken out of the restricted area. As these animals are caught and sold for the sole purpose of being eaten, the risk of them being returned to natural waterways and spreading the white spot virus is negligible.

The exemption applies to spanner crabs, three spotted crabs, blue swimmer crabs, mud crabs, red champagne lobster, slipper lobster, tropical rocklobster, red claw and bugs.

Fishing restrictions

To help prevent further outbreaks of white spot in South East Queensland, fishing is prohibited within 100 metres of water intake and outlet channels and in drainage channels used by land-based prawn farms in the Gold Coast City Division 1/Coomera electorate district. This includes line fishing and the use of other fishing equipment such as crab pots, cast nets and yabby pumps.

The restrictions apply to waterways surrounding prawn farms in Alberton, Coomera, Gilberton, Helensvale, Hope Island, Jacobs Well, Norwell, Ormeau, Pimpama, Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Stapylton, Steiglitz and Woongoolba.

Decontamination of fishing gear

To reduce the likelihood of accidently spreading white spot it is recommended that all fishing equipment is cleaned thoroughly before leaving the restricted area. This includes the removal of bait material from hooks and ensuring that crabs or prawns are not tangled in cast nets or crab pots before leaving the area.

Visit the recommended procedure for decontaminating fishing apparatus and vessels for further information or to watch the video..

Use of bait prawns

Prawns, yabbies or worms sourced from the white spot restricted area must not be taken out of the restricted area.

To avoid accidently spreading diseases it is important that fishers consider where their bait come from before using it. Always use locally sourced, Australian, wild-caught prawns, yabbies or worms from a quality bait supplier, or catch your own close to where you intend to fish.

Prawns purchased from supermarkets that are meant for human consumption are not appropriate to be used as bait.

Fishers who use prawns from supermarkets may unknowingly introduce serious diseases into natural waterways.

More white spot information

Last updated 21 July 2017