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Frequently Asked Questions about white spot disease

Frequently asked questions

Is it safe to eat prawns with white spot disease?

Yes. White spot disease does not pose any human health or food safety concerns.

Does cooking kill white spot disease?

Yes. Cooking prawns in boiling water for a minimum of three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half minutes, depending on the size, will inactivate the virus.

Does freezing kill white spot disease?

No. Freezing does not kill the white spot virus.

How was white spot disease introduced to Queensland?

Biosecurity Queensland is investigating a number of possible pathways, however at this stage it is not known how the disease was introduced.

What does it mean for the future of wild prawn stocks?

Determining what the impacts are on prawns in the wild is difficult to evaluate as there is little evidence about the effect of white spot disease on wild populations in overseas countries where this disease is considered an endemic.

What is the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries doing to stop the spread of white spot disease?

Biosecurity Queensland has implemented movement restrictions from Caloundra to the New South Wales border, following the eastern coasts of Bribie, Moreton and Stradbroke Island. These restrictions will reduce the likelihood of the disease spreading through human assisted movement.

Can fish spread the virus?

No. Fish are not carriers of the virus that causes white spot disease.

Why has all of Queensland been declared a biosecurity zone for white spot disease?

The biosecurity zone has been put in place to ensure the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries can act swiftly to contain a white spot disease incident should one occur elsewhere in the state.

Now that Queensland is considered a biosecurity zone, does that mean movement restrictions apply to all of Queensland?

No. Movement restrictions only apply to prawns, yabbies and marine worms that have been caught in the restricted area from Caloundra to the New South Wales border.

What is the exact area that movement restrictions apply?

The restricted area extends from Caloundra to the New South Wales border following a line 100 metres off the eastern coasts of Bribie, Moreton and Stradbroke Islands. It also extends west to encompass the western borders of Gold Coast City Council, Brisbane City Council and Moreton Bay Regional Council.

What animals have movement restrictions placed on them?

Prawns, yabbies and marine worms must not be moved out of the restricted area unless cooked first.

Why are crabs, lobsters and bugs exempt from movement restrictions?

Crabs, lobsters and bugs are exempt from the movement restrictions as they are caught and sold for the sole purpose of being eaten, which means the risk of them being returned to natural waterways and spreading the white spot virus is low risk.

How will the movement restrictions prevent the spread of the disease?

Movement restrictions are in place to stop people moving infected animals and accidently transporting the disease and introducing it to new areas.

How long will the restrictions be in place?

Movement restrictions will remain in place while they are still considered an effective means of control and containment for the disease. A minimum of two years surveillance with no positive results for the virus is needed to return Queensland to an internationally recognised white spot disease free status.

Can I take crustaceans out of the restricted area?

Yes, as long as they are cooked first.

Can I take the bait that I caught inside the restricted area out of the restricted area to go fishing?

No. You cannot take uncooked prawns or marine worms out of the restricted area. Prawns and marine worms caught inside the restricted area could carry the white spot virus. Anyone who takes bait from the restricted area and uses it in waterways outside the restricted area could inadvertently spread white spot disease.

Can I use crab pots, cast nets and yabby pumps in the movement control area?

Yes, however all equipment should be cleaned thoroughly before they are used outside the restricted area. Visit the recommended procedure for decontaminating fishing apparatus and vessels for further information or to watch the video.

Where do the fishing restrictions apply?

To help prevent further outbreaks of white spot disease 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 applies 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.

Who can I contact if I catch a crab or prawn that I suspect has white spot disease?

Suspect cases of white spot disease can be reported to Biosecurity Queensland through the white spot disease online reporting tool or by calling Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. Where possible take a photo of the suspect crustacean and refrigerate or freeze a sample, as it may be required for further inspection (excluding regulated crabs).

Last updated 26 February 2018