White spot disease (WSD) was detected on a number of prawn farms in the Logan River and Moreton Bay areas of South East Queensland in late 2016 and 2017.
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 has never been detected in South Australia but would pose a serious threat to the state’s freshwater and marine crustaceans if introduced.
There are no human health issues associated with the virus that causes WSD.
An import ban is in place to restrict the movement of high risk products and equipment that originate from Queensland’s designated WSD movement restriction area.
This vital Biosecurity measure was introduced in December 2016 to help prevent the disease entering into South Australia. The ban has been extended until further notice.
All import restrictions and requirements are detailed in the Declaration of Livestock Movement Restrictions in Relation to Decapod Crustaceans (Order Decapoda) and Polychaete Worms (Class Polychaeta). The notice is published in the South Australian Government Gazette No. 46, Thursday, 19 September 2019, pp. 3305–3340.
The following cannot be moved from the WSD control area into South Australia:
- No live or dead untreated prawns and other crustaceans, this includes but is not limited to:
- school, tiger and banana prawns
- mud, blue swimmer, spanner and three-spotted crabs
- polychaete worms (e.g. bristle worms).
- No untreated fittings and equipment used in the farming or commercial catch of these species.
Prawns from the WSD area that are either cooked or gamma irradiated before entering South Australia are exempted from the ban.
Some live high-value decapods are recognised as being low risk and are permitted entry under strict conditions including appropriate disposal of product and waste. These species include:
- mud crabs
- certain species of lobsters
- Moreton Bay bugs
- Balmain bugs.
Federal import conditions
In July 2017, the Australian Government implemented import conditions that:
- facilitate safe trade in uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat
- meet Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP).
Details about the requirements for imports are available on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.
Information for bait and berley suppliers
It is an essential legal requirement that bait and berley retailers do not accept any supplies from non-approved processors or producers in Queensland’s designated WSD movement restriction area.
If you receive a non-compliant consignment of bait or berley from Queensland’s WSD movement restriction area contact the PIRSA Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline - 1800 675 888 (24-hours).
Gamma irradiated prawns and polychaete worms from within the Queensland’s WSD movement restriction area in SE Queensland are permitted for use as bait in SA waters.
- View the WSD information for bait berley suppliers - fact sheet ( or )
- View a map of Queensland's WSD movement restriction area
Bait and berley Import Permit
To import bait and berley you must have an Import Permit approved by the South Australian Chief Veterinary Officer. The Import Permit will stipulate the conditions for entry into the state.
To apply for a permit you must e-mail PIRSA.BiosecuritySA@SA.gov.au or phone 08 8207 7900 with the following information:
- contact details (e-mail, phone, fax, mobile)
- product type
- product volume
- delivery address
- proposed delivery schedule.
Allow five working days for application processing and issuing of permit (if permitted).
Maximum penalty for breaching the SA Livestock Movement Restriction Notice is up to $20,000.
Queensland movement conditions
Queensland have separate conditions for the movement of treated and untreated product within their state. For further information, contact:
Mark Kruk - Restricted Area Movement & Security (RAMS) Officer
White Spot Disease Program, Biosecurity Queensland
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Phone: (07) 3087 8862
Mobile: 0477 300 819
Information for recreational fishers
Recreational fishers can help keep South Australia free of WSD by:
- Buying bait and berly from reputable outlets - any product from Queensland’s WSD movement restriction area should have been gamma irradiated.
- Disposing untreated bait or berley supplies from the WSD control area into landfill or at quarantine stations across South Australia.
- Never using imported prawns, crabs and other crustaceans purchased for human consumption as bait or berley. If caught you could be fined.
- Never using leftover, uncooked seafood including prawn heads, shells or meat as bait or berley – this should be thrown into your normal household waste collection service.
- Never throwing uncooked seafood into our waters - it could introduce aquatic animal diseases.
- If you catch your own bait locally, use it only in the waters from where it came. Fines can apply if caught depositing species not endemic to the area into state waters.
Report suspected White Spot Disease
If you think you have found or seen WSD:
- Photograph it
- Collect it (refrigerate or freeze)
- Report it IMMEDIATELY to the PIRSA Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline – 1800 675 888 (available 24 hours).