Dear Members, 

We have received the following advice from the Prawn Liaison Officer at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources: 

This is the latest update email about activities being undertaken as part of the imported prawn suspension. 

The department is currently conducting a number of activities to ensure the risk of white spot disease (and other prawn diseases) entering and establishing in Australia is appropriately managed. 

Have you received an inspection direction?

  • Brokers and importers are encouraged to contact the department to book inspections or to organise exports for consignments that been directed for inspection. This will assist in reducing delays and assist the department with planning inspection activities.
  • To book, please contact the Client Contact Group on 1800 900 090. 

Biosecurity risk review of prawn products and pathways

  • As a priority the department is working on a review of specific products and pathways that might be eligible for an exemption from the import suspension.
  • At this stage it is anticipated to take up to 8 weeks for the initial review of import conditions. Once this review is completed a decision can be made on possible future risk management options for specific products and pathways to allow for the safe resumption of trade.
  • Product categories that are currently being considered as part of the review include:

    • Irradiated uncooked prawns
    • Shelf stable products such as dried prawns and condiments
    • Australian sourced prawns sent overseas for processing
    • Mixed seafood consignments containing uncooked prawns
    • Marinated prawns.
  • Submissions to support the biosecurity risk review can be made to:  
  • Additionally the department is reviewing the existing risk management measures for uncooked imported prawns. We anticipate this will be completed within the next 6 months. 

Enhanced measures for goods in transit

  • Importers of consignments of uncooked prawns already on their way to Australia when the suspension was implemented will be given the choice to re-export, destroy or have their consignment tested as part of an enhanced inspection and testing regime.
  • The enhanced inspection process will ensure consignments that have not been released from biosecurity control are held seals intact until inspection and sampling can occur.
  • Testing at AAHL typically takes a minimum of two days, however, due to the backlog of tests to be conducted there have been delays to testing timeframes. There is no way to expedite testing.
  • AAHL is unable to provide updates on particular consignments and clients are advised to wait until the department contacts them with their results.
  • The current WSSV results for tests undertaken for uncooked prawns as part of the enhanced border measures are as follows:
  • Number of batches fully tested = 21
  • Number of batches released = 6
  • Number of batches refused = 15

Product withdrawal

  • An Australia-wide retail level testing operation is underway, which involves the identification and testing of imported uncooked prawns for white spot syndrome virus at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL). Additionally, the department is working closely with major supermarket retailers to conduct virus testing of products at their distribution centres.
  • Of the product subjected to the testing operation, there have been both positive and negative test results for white spot syndrome virus. The department will ensure that any products that have been identified as infected with white spot syndrome virus are promptly withdrawn from the market and has requested that relevant importers recall their product from sale and provide distribution information. 

Consumption of prawns

  • Everyone is reminded that white spot disease presents no risk to human health and is safe to eat. White spot disease affects prawns and other crustaceans only and presents no risk to humans or other animals.
  • Green, uncooked prawns may not show signs of the disease but could still be carriers. The disease is not visible in prawns that do not have a head or shell.
  • It is crucial that you do not use prawns meant for human consumption as bait.
  • Ensure unused prawns (or parts of prawns) are disposed of appropriately, and are not discarded in Australia’s waterways. 

Useful links

Please feel free to forward this email to your members or other interested parties. 

If you received a forwarded copy of this email and would like to be included on the mailing list please send your name, organisation, email address and contact number to

Kind regards, 

Blake Zur 
Prawn Liaison Officer
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
Hotline: 1800 068 468

Kind regards