White Spot Disease

White spot disease (WSD) has been detected on a number of prawn farms in the Logan River area of South East Queensland.

WSD is a highly contagious viral infection that affects crustaceans – in prawn farm operations it can result in 100% mortality within days of the first visible signs of the disease.

The disease is currently not in South Australia but poses a serious threat to the state’s freshwater and marine crustaceans if introduced.

An import ban is now in place as a vital biosecurity measure to prevent the disease entering SA.

View the Declaration of a Livestock Standstill in relation to White Spot Disease in the South Australian Government Gazette No. 8, Thursday, 16 February 2017 (page 4).

The ban applies to the movement of all live or dead uncooked prawns and other crustaceans from the infected area, into South Australia. This includes but is not limited to:

  • school, tiger and banana prawns
  • shrimp
  • crab
  • yabby
  • polychaete worms (eg. bristle worms)

The ban also includes fittings and equipment used in connection with the farming or commercial catch of these species.

The restricted area includes all waters and aquaculture crustacean farms in any part of Queensland south of latitude 23°S. View map of restricted area.  View map of restricted area (JPG 1.9 MB).

In January 2017, the Australian Government suspended all import of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat as well as uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat that have been marinated for human consumption. Details about the import suspension are available on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

Note, there are no human health issues associated with the virus that causes WSD.

More information about the response to the Queensland outbreak.

What you can do to help

Recreational fishers can help keep South Australia free of WSD, by:

  • Checking the origin of any bait in your possession regardless of the point of purchase. Dispose of any supplies sourced from the designated area, any part of Queensland south of latitude 23°S, into landfill or at quarantine stations across SA.
  • Imported prawns for human consumption must not be deposited into State waters (eg. as bait or berley) due to the possible presence of a notifiable disease under the Livestock Act 1997 - fines will apply.
  • Don’t use food grade crustaceans, including prawns and crabs, as fishing bait. Many imported prawns come from countries where White Spot Disease is common and there is a biosecurity risk that prawns meant for human consumption could spread the virus if they are used as bait.
  • Don’t use leftover, uncooked seafood including prawn heads, shells or meat as berley when fishing – this material should be safely disposed of through the normal household waste collection service.
  • If you think you have found or seen WSD;
    • photograph it
    • collect it (refrigerate or freeze)
    • report it to the PIRSA Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline: 1800 675 888 (available 24 hours).
  • If you catch your own bait, use it only in the water from where it came.
  • Never release live bait into waters other than where it was originally caught. It is an offence under the Fisheries Management Act 2007 to deposit species that are not endemic to the area into state waters. Fines may apply.
  • Do not order any live or dead uncooked crustaceans or bait worms from producers in the specified Logan River region.

View the WSD alert for recreational fishers - fact sheet (PDF 138.5 KB or DOCX 758.2 KB)

Information for bait/berley suppliers

It is an essential legal requirement that bait and berley retailers do not accept any supplies from the producers in the Logan River area of South East Queensland. The following requirements apply:

  • Do not purchase, receive or open any bait consignments originating from the specified area. If received report this to the PIRSA Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline: 1800 675 888 (available 24 hours). You may be instructed to either return the consignment back to the interstate sender if permitted, or dispose of the shipment in an approved manner.
  • If any bait stock has been sourced from the area since 1 November please advise PIRSA as soon as possible.
  • Do not sell, give away or use prawn, crab and polychaete worm bait supplies originating from the specified area as bait or berley.
  • Maximum penalty for breaching the Livestock Standstill Notice is up to $20 000.

View the WSD alert for bait berley suppliers - fact sheet (PDF 308.5 KB or DOCX 2.0 MB)


If you receive consignments of bait from the affected area or to report suspicion of WSD contact:

PIRSA Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline
1800 675 888 (24-hours)

Page Last Reviewed: 31 Oct 2017
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