Barnaby Joyce fears importers knowingly brought diseased prawns to Australia

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Image: Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce is seeking criminal charges against seafood importers suspected of knowingly bringing diseased prawns into the country according to a report from the ABC’s 7:30.

It is believed that the outbreak of white spot disease (WSD) in south east Queensland that has decimated local prawn farmers in the area – as well as contaminating wild prawns and mud crabs – can be linked back to imported prawns.

Joyce told the ABC that there is a strong case that importers have been swapping prawns.

“The [importers] were offering up a batch of prawns [for inspection] they knew full well didn’t have white spot and taking the others in the back door,” Joyce said.

The Department of Agriculture is seeking criminal charges against Sino, a large Chinese importer, and continuing to investigate four others.

“Sino were a major player and now they’ve got some major questions to answer. If they’ve done it, it’s a criminal event and we’ll nail them,” he said.

The department is continuing to investigate whether some importers have been deliberately cheating Australia’s quarantine and bio-security systems using methods including submitting healthy prawns for testing while hiding the infected prawns and deliberately mislabelling product to avoid testing.

Click here to read this month’s Fish Facts where Dr Ben Diggles takes a look at the history of WSD in Australia.

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