Agriculture department report covers biosecurity risks of prawn imports

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has released the final report for the review of the biosecurity risks of prawns imported from all countries for human consumption.

Release of the final report is the culmination of many years’ work by the department working in close collaboration with stakeholders. In conducting the review, the department considered international standards developed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), relevant scientific information and advice from scientific experts, submissions provided by stakeholders, relevant industry practices, rigorous scientific review, and outcomes of independent research commissioned by the department.

The final report proposes that prawns and prawn products continue to be permitted into Australia under the current enhanced import conditions implemented in a staged approach since 2017, subject to compliance with additional strengthened biosecurity measures. These strengthened measures are the following:

  • Additional assurance that all prawns and prawn products are frozen
  • A minimum cooking temperature for cooked prawns
  • Requiring all imported whole uncooked prawns to be free from additional pathogenic agents as recognised by Australia through an official assessment

Head and shell removal, deveining and pre-export and on-arrival testing for white spot syndrome virus and yellow head virus genotype one are still considered necessary to manage biosecurity risks of uncooked prawns. Breaded, battered, and crumbed prawns must still have undergone a par-cooking step and highly processed prawn must still be imported as part of a product such as a dumpling or spring roll.

These conditions are above those recommended by the WOAH for trade in prawns.

Australia has finalised this review in line with international rights and obligations and supported by risk assessments. These measures are necessary to protect Australia’s domestic producers, native crustacean species, and the country’s unique aquatic environments from the threat of disease.

The strengthened measures will be implemented as soon as the department has fulfilled its obligations under the World Trade Organisation to consult with trading partners. The department will work directly with trading partners on transitional arrangements to minimise trade disruption while continuing to manage the biosecurity risk.

The department anticipates that implementation will commence from October 13, 2023.

The department will continue to closely monitor imports of prawns and prawn products to ensure that there is ongoing compliance with Australia’s import conditions and that biosecurity risks are appropriately managed.


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