Prawns: Eat them, but don't use them as bait
Producers of Australian prawns have asked coastal residents to not use imported prawns as bait when fishing, to protect our crustaceans.
Kim Hooper, executive officer at the Australian Prawn Farmers Association, made a call to Northern Rivers fishermen to avoid using imported prawns sold for human consumption as bait, even though prawns bought at retail shops are cheaper than actual bait prawns.
"The risk is very high because there are lot of fishermen who use imported prawns as bait," she said.
"Some people are trying to do the right thing, but it only takes one person to decimate the industry."
Just before Christmas 2016, the Queensland prawn industry was rocked by an outbreak of white spot disease.
It was recorded in some prawn farms on the Logan River catchment south of Brisbane and spread to all farms in the region.
The virus cannot be passed to humans but is devastating to prawns, with some farms reporting up to 80 per cent of their stock lost in a few days.
Producers were forced to get rid of their remaining stock as biosecurity authorities worked to contain the outbreak.
"There were fishermen there using white sport infected prawns as bait at that time," Ms Hooper said.
"The Queensland Government has spent a lot of money on education programs for fishermen, but the latest IRA (Import Risk Analysis Report) Prawns draft report said that there has been no impact from these education campaigns on fishers.
"As we saw with the impact white spot had in the industry, many local seafood family businesses were severely impacted by their trade between the NSW border and Caloundra.
"This is not something we want to see in areas like Ballina, Tweed, Evans Head or Byron Bay."