Fishermen should forget cheap supermarket bait, warns minister

APPEAL FOR HELP: Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne.

APPEAL FOR HELP: Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne.

FISHERIES Minister Bill Byrne has called on Moreton Bay fishers to make sure they do not use raw imported prawns as bait.

Mr Byrne said products like imported prawns could introduce serious diseases into waterways.

It is thought that cheap imported Asian raw prawns sold in chain supermarkets for human consumption and widely used by amateur fishers caused last December’s outbreak of white spot disease in the Logan River, prawn farms and Moreton Bay.

Mr Byrne said a campaign would start on the eve of school holidays urging people to ensure imported raw prawn products were not used.

"The campaign we are launching today asks all fishers to check their bait before they go out fishing, to make sure it is Australian wild-caught bait from a quality bait supplier, or to catch their own,” Mr Byrne said.

“This message is very important, as we all need to do our bit to help protect our natural waterways and our fishing and aquaculture industries, which are vital industries in Queensland, by making sure diseases aren’t introduced or spread.”

Former cricketer and keen fisherman Andrew Symonds would feature in a video advertisement and a series of posters.

“Andrew reminds us to not use prawns from the supermarket as bait as they are meant for human consumption only,” Mr Byrne said.

“He then hooks a big snapper with some prawns he caught himself, which reinforces the message to catch your own bait or buy it from a quality bait supplier.”

He said it was important to contain the spread of white spot to Moreton Bay, with movement restrictions in place from Caloundra to the New South Wales border.

RESTRICTED AREA: The restricted area for fishermen.

RESTRICTED AREA: The restricted area for fishermen.

White spot disease program director Kerrod Beattie said this meant all prawns, yabbies and marine worms caught in the restricted area must stay there.

“If you’re catching bait from the restricted area these holidays make sure you don’t take it out of the area, as doing so could spread the disease into other waterways. If you are not sure where the restricted area is then go to the (department’s) webpage to view the map,” Mr Beattie said.

“It is also important to remember to put all of your unwanted seafood scraps in the bin and not into waterways, as uncooked prawn waste could introduce disease that could devastate aquaculture industries, as well as our natural environment.”

Watch the video advertisement featuring Andrew Symonds or visit www.qld.gov.au/checkyourbait for more information about using the correct bait this holiday season.

To find out more about white spot disease or to view the map of the restricted area visit www.daf.qld.gov.au/wsd.