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$10k fine for moving uncooked prawns out of White Spot restricted area

A Gold Coast bait supplier who moved raw prawns outside the movement restriction area and sold them to a bait shop in the Warwick region, has been fined $10,000 in the Brisbane Magistrate Court.

The Magistrate said the penalty should send a clear message to other industry operators and the public warning them that they will be punished if they breach a Movement Control Order.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the prawns were collected from the retail outlet by a government employee and sent to the Biosecurity Sciences Laboratory for testing and Australian Animal Health Laboratory for further confirmation.

“Once the bait prawns tested positive for white spot syndrome virus all at-risk prawns associated with the consignment were immediately traced and removed from sale,” Mr Furner said.

“We also conducted surveillance in local rivers and dams in the area with all tests returning negative results.

“It is very lucky that the consignment was detected quickly, and the bait recalled, otherwise someone could have unknowingly spread white spot disease to new waterways in the area.

“Commercial bait suppliers operating in the white spot disease restricted area should take heed from this and realise it is a criminal offence to move raw prawns, yabbies and marine worms out of the area.

The defendant pleaded guilty to charges of failing to comply with a movement control order, which was made under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Movement restrictions are in place to safeguard the aquaculture industry, commercial fishers and the environment from further spread of white spot disease.

The restrictions are in place from Caloundra to the New South Wales border, and west to Ipswich for prawns, yabbies and marine worms.

Anyone who suspects white spot disease should contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

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