THE latest round of surveillance tests in South East Queensland waters show no signs of white spot disease, according to Biosecurity Queensland.

It’s said to be a big relief for prawn farmers whose stocks were destroyed after white spot disease was first discovered two-and-a-half years ago, and who have restocked their production ponds again.

Prawn and marine worm samples were taken from a number of locations within Moreton Bay, Logan and Brisbane Rivers and all returned negative results.

Minister for agriculture Mark Furner said it was great news for the industry.

“This is the second consecutive surveillance round conducted by my department which has returned negative results for the virus that causes white spot disease,” Mr Furner said.

“If another round of tests next year is negative Queensland and Australia would be declared free of white spot disease.

“In Queensland the industry is valued at over $120m and rising fast, with the production of prawns making up the lion’s share of this figure.”

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Australian Prawn Farmers Association president Matt West said all his members had their fingers crossed hoping the white spot outbreak was over.

“Affected businesses have gone through a lot of financial and mental stress with our Logan farms having to shut down for lengthy periods with the sole purpose of eradicating the disease,” Mr West said.

“Everyone has done an amazing job, but we’ve had a wake-up call to remain vigilant, not just for white spot but other diseases coming into the country.

“An end to the white spot disease outbreak would be very good result indeed, not only for the Logan farmers but Queensland’s prawn farming industry, which is currently enjoying a considerable, state-wide, expansionary phase.”

Established aquaculture companies and major new entrants are spending millions of dollars expanding their farms or constructing some new large-scale operations.

White spot disease is a highly contagious viral infection that affects crustaceans, prawns and crabs, but it is not harmful to human health and these seafoods are safe to eat.

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