The Coalition Government is finalising contracts with the six prawn farm businesses affected by the outbreak of White Spot disease in the Logan River area of Queensland, giving the green light for AU$20 million in financial assistance.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the financial assistance will make a real difference to prawn farmers affected by the outbreak.
“The Coalition Government is delivering real assistance to where it is needed most, despite the refusal of the Queensland Government to participate or even facilitate the payments,” Minister Joyce said.
“This $20 million assistance package will help reimburse costs for prawn farmers in the initial response to the White Spot disease outbreak, including recognition of the stock destroyed, as well as the costs of their farms being out of action for a season.”
Minister Joyce said although this is a positive milestone, there is still a long way to go in rebuilding the Logan River prawn industry and confirming the disease has been eradicated from our waters.
“The Coalition Government remains committed to working with industry and Queensland biosecurity officers to eradicate this outbreak and to get to the bottom of the source of the disease.
“Surveillance screening in the Moreton Bay area will recommence towards the end of August to determine whether White Spot disease has established in the environment.
“There have been no detections of White Spot disease outside the Moreton Bay area.”
Nick Moore of Gold Coast Marine Aquaculture, one of the affected prawn farmers, said the financial assistance would enable farmers in the Logan area to get on with the business of growing prawns once the fallow period is over.
“The vitally important thing, beyond the clean-up and rebuilding of prawn businesses affected, is to ensure this virus does not spread to other areas of Australia nor be imported into Australia beyond our biosecurity controls,” said Mr Moore.
Mr Joyce said as part of the funding, up to $4 million will be repaid by prawn farmers through an industry wide levy, to be applied once affected farmers are back on their feet.
“The Australian Prawn Farmers’ Association has given in-principle support for the establishment of the levy,” Minister Joyce said.
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