Final prawn farm on Logan River tests positive for white spot disease

As the chlorine trucks rolled in on Tuesday morning, the last remaining prawn farm on the Logan River south of Brisbane was lost for the better part of the year.

Rocky Point Prawn Farm owner Serena Zipf said the federal government had failed south-east Queensland farms and it was now too late to salvage anything from the area.

The positive test results for the highly contagious white spot disease came back on Monday, shattering Ms Zipf and her close workers.

It was the seventh and final Logan River farm to become contaminated, after the sixth fell on February 6.

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries chief biosecurity officer Dr Jim Thompson said the decontamination process on all farms south of the river would take months.

"Work is in progress across the other properties including the gradual process of draining, drying out and clearing sediment from the farms which have already been decontaminated," he said.

"It is our intention to have the affected farms in a position where they could commence operating again towards the end of the year."

Speaking to ABC Radio Brisbane, Ms Zipf said the industry had been warning the government for 20 years about the potential for white spot disease.

She said the government was relying on 2009 survey data and based on that declared the risk of an outbreak and transmission from imported prawns to be "low".

"We count on the federal government to do certain basic things – protect our borders from unwanted people and unwanted diseases," Ms Zipf said.

She added the federal government had implied in a press release the farmers could be to blame for the outbreak as a result of to "poor on-farm biosecurity practices".

"Climb down off your ivory tower in Canberra because you have never set foot on a farm and you dare to put that in a press release," she told ABC Radio Brisbane.

Queensland Seafood Industry Association board director David Swindells said he didn't think the loss of supply from seven farms would create a major prawn shortage.

In addition, he said more than 30 per cent of the Queensland coast was closed to commercial fishermen, to give recreational fishers better access.

Mr Swindells said these areas could be reopened, any potential supply problems would be gone.

It would also better support local harvesters and the risk of further outbreak from the importation of seafood.

He said he saw decomposing fish pulled from the Fitzroy River on Tuesday morning and said good seafood was dying because commercial fishermen weren't allowed to catch them.

Looking ahead, Ms Zipf said the only thing that could save the rest of the prawn farms across the nation was an immediate recall and review of all imported prawns in the marketplace.

As for the future of Rocky Point Farm, Ms Zipf said she would assess their future in the industry and have tough conversations with close-knit workers.

"These are people who have never asked the government for anything and proudly fed Australia and their very integrity is now being called into question," she said.

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The story Final prawn farm on Logan River tests positive for white spot disease first appeared on Brisbane Times.

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