Dear Members, 

We have received the following advice from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources: 

Media statement: department's action on imported prawns

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 have 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.
  • The department will allow brokers and importers to hold product which has already been imported pending the outcome of the review.
    • The product must be held under biosecurity control at an Approved Arrangement.
    • The product must undergo verification inspections at six weekly intervals or at a rate deemed necessary by inspection staff.
    • The product must not be moved without departmental approval.
    • When the direction comes up as overdue in the system, you will be contacted by inspection staff and at this stage the verification inspection of the product can be arranged.
    • NOTE: This only applies to any uncooked product that is currently under biosecurity control at the Approved Arrangement. 

Biosecurity risk review of prawn products and pathways

  • The department is continuing to work on a review of specific products and pathways that might be eligible for an exemption from the import suspension.
  • The Director of Biosecurity exempted the following goods from the suspension:
    • dried prawns and shelf-stable prawn-based food products
    • irradiated bait for aquatic use, pet fish food and aquaculture feed
    • uncooked prawns sourced from Australia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Australian caught prawns are not exempt if they have been exported to another country for processing.
    • The following product categories are still being considered as part of the review:
      • Australian sourced prawns sent overseas for processing
      • mixed seafood consignments containing uncooked prawns
      • marinated prawns.
    • It may take up to 8 weeks to review import conditions for these products. This timeframe is calculated from the initial date of suspension.
    • Once these products have been reviewed, a decision can be made on possible future risk management options to allow for the safe resumption of trade. 

Submissions to the biosecurity risk review

  • The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is accepting submissions from parties with proposals about how they believe their particular situation manages the biosecurity risks associated with import of uncooked prawns or prawn products which are currently suspended under the Biosecurity (Suspended Good – Uncooked Prawns) Determination 2017.
  • The department will conduct a risk assessment of the proposal and using the outcomes of that risk assessment, the Director of Biosecurity will make a decision about whether the product can be exempt from the temporary suspension, or if it must remain suspended from import until further biosecurity risk assessments can be completed.
  • There is no set format or specific requirements for the submissions. However, the submission should outline the proposal and provide clear reasoning for how the pathway manages the risks associated with import. The submission should also include any relevant information (such as scientific papers or surveillance data) that would support the proposal. The proponent can propose additional risk management measures which could be included in the pathway.
  • Those making submissions should be aware that the department may determine that additional risk management measures or activities need to be included in their pathway in order for the risk to be managed appropriately.
  • The department will follow-up with the proponent if it is decided that there is further information required or if any part of the submission is unclear.
  • Submissions or further questions can be sent to 

Enhanced measures for goods in transit

  • The department is currently working through over 100 consignments of prawns which were already in transit to Australia when the suspension took effect.
  • These consignments are being subjected to an enhanced inspection and double testing regime at the border to ensure any product entering the country is free from white spot disease. The product will not be released until it has undergone double testing and is confirmed free from the disease.
  • These numbers will initially be skewed towards results positive for white spot, as they are returned quicker than the negative results which require confirmation from AAHL.
  • 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 = 37
  • Number of batches released = 11
  • Number of batches refused = 26
  • As of today, screening laboratories have been asked to forward all new final reports of WSSV and YHV tests to the importer at the same time they are emailed to
  • Additionally, as of today, results from all new AAHL tests (unprocessed and marinated) will be provided to importers by the department. We will also provide results of earlier tests to importers if they are requested. 

Useful links

Kind regards