Ministers say they will financially help Logan River prawn farmers

DISEASE OUTBREAK: A prawn infected with white spot disease.
DISEASE OUTBREAK: A prawn infected with white spot disease.

SCIENTISTS from the National Aquatic Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases believe the exotic prawn disease that has hit all seven prawn farms on the Logan River can be eradicated.

It comes as the federal and state government promises to work with devastated farmers on a financial relief package.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture Anne Ruston and Fisheries Minister Bill Byrne held talks today, looking at the best way forward for the prawn industry.

“On our visits to the farms on the Logan River, we have both been struck by the determination and resilience of the farmers and we appreciate the need to maintain the closest co-operation to do all that is possible to get them back into production at the earliest opportunity,’’ Ms Ruston said.

“Minister Byrne and I have seen first-hand just how devastating this outbreak has been.’’

Mr Byrne said the government remained focussed on working with prawn farmers to a state where they could start production later this year if they so chose to.

Queensland committed in early December to reimburse prawn farmers for the costs they incurred under direction of Biosecurity Queensland.

“The Queensland government has spent approximately $4.4 million and expects to spend an additional $12 million during the first half of 2017 on a response which has involved up to 100 biosecurity officers,’’ he said.

Ms Rushton said her government had provided Queensland and industry with up to $1.74 million to help with costs, with $400,000 of that money going directly to farmers.

The pair urged all producers to ensure they had stringent biosecurity arrangements in place and asked recreational fishers to refrain from using green prawns as bait.

White spot disease is a highly contagious disease of prawns and other crustaceans, but is no risk to humans.