​Media release

Emergency assistance for prawn disease response

26 January 2017

  • Coalition Government providing $1.74 million to help respond to prawn disease in Queensland, including up to $400,000 in direct support to farmers
  • White spot disease has infected five properties in south-east Queensland
  • Leading aquatic disease group still assert eradication is possible

The response to the outbreak of white spot disease in Queensland’s south-east will be boosted by up to $1.74 million in federal funding.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said funds had been allocated for a range of activities, including up to $400,000 in support for farmers, as well as strengthening the prawn industry’s biosecurity capability and managing response costs.

“White spot disease first reared its head in prawn farms in Queensland at the end of November. Both my department and the state authorities have been working around the clock since then to contain and eradicate the disease and to save our valuable prawn farming industry,” Minister Joyce said.

“Just before Christmas, my department received applications for emergency assistance funding from the Queensland Government, the Australian Prawn Farmers’ Association (APFA) and the Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA).

“The applications have been assessed and the Coalition Government has announced that it will provide up to $1.74 million under its rapid response funding, which was bolstered by the Coalition’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, to assist with response costs and future preparedness activities.”

“I know that prawn farmers have provided unconditional support to the Queensland Government’s response to the disease. That cooperation is essential, but it comes at a cost and the welfare of Australian farmers must always be front of mind.

“That is why the Coalition Government is making up to $400,000 of direct support available to prawn farmers to cover costs incurred as part of the Queensland Government’s response. We are also engaging with the Queensland Government and the prawn industry on a broader cost sharing arrangement to assist in managing the response.

Minister Joyce said the support for farmers was part of $1.3 million to be provided to the Queensland Government to assist with activities that also included:
  • emergency response and incident management
  • destruction and decontamination of affected areas
  • bird mitigation
  • monitoring of waterways
  • community engagement and awareness
  • surveillance and sampling
  • scientific and technical advice

The APFA and QSIA will receive up to $221,000 and $220,000 respectively for activities that include engaging scientific experts to assist with the response and recovery; improving industry understanding of biosecurity risks and engaging biosecurity liaison officers to develop biosecurity plans for the farmed prawn industry and wild catch prawn industry.

“We are continuing to work collaboratively to contain and eradicate the outbreak of white spot disease, as well as investigating the source,” Minister Joyce said.

“It’s absolutely essential that Australia be free from white spot disease once again.”

For more information on the status of the outbreak in Queensland, visit www.outbreak.gov.au​.

Fast facts
  • Australia’s prawn industry produces approximately 25,059 tonnes per year, with an estimated value of $358 million.
  • White spot disease is a highly contagious disease for prawns and other crustaceans, but poses no risk to humans.
  • White spot disease is endemic in all major prawn-producing countries except Australia and New Caledonia.