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Biosecurity Advice 2017-10 - Planned changes to import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat

15 June 2017

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources intends to implement interim import conditions for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat commodities when the suspension of importsof raw prawns (i.e. those that are uncooked, frozen and have had the head and shell removed (the last shell segment and tail fans permitted)) lapses on 6 July 2017.

For those uncooked prawn commodities that have already been exempted from the import suspension, it is proposed that the import conditions that were established to support their exemption will continue.

For raw prawns (i.e. those that are uncooked, frozen and have had the head and shell removed (the last shell segment and tail fans permitted)), which are currently subject to the import suspension, it is proposed that when the suspension lapses interim import conditions will be put in place which will include both pre-export and on-arrival testing for prawn diseases of concern.

Stakeholders are also notified that the department will vary or reissue import permits for uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat commodities to ensure they reflect updated import conditions once the suspension lapses.  Permit holders will be advised of the process shortly.

The Biosecurity (Suspended Goods – Uncooked Prawns) Determination 2017 was signed by the Director of Biosecurity on 6 January 2017. The Determination suspended imports of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products for a period of six months and was considered necessary based on the Director of Biosecurity’s conclusion that uncooked imported prawns (including prawn meat) represented an unacceptable level of biosecurity risk which did not achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection (ALOP).

The import suspension was put in place for a period of six months to enable an effective review of import conditions to manage biosecurity risks in accordance with Australia’s ALOP and to allow the department to examine information arising from inspections and investigations, including on the current white spot disease outbreak. During this time, the department has reviewed current import requirements and assessed biosecurity risk for a range of uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn products, with a view to exempting products that are considered to meet Australia’s ALOP.

To date, the department has exempted a number of uncooked prawn commodities from the import suspension:

  1. dried prawns and shelf-stable prawn-based food products (3 February 2017)
  2. irradiated bait for aquatic use, pet fish food and aquaculture feed (3 February 2017)
  3. uncooked prawns sourced from Australia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) (3 February 2017)
  4. uncooked prawns sourced from Australian territory external to the WSSV Movement Control Area, uncooked prawns intended to be transhipped goods for outgoing passenger vessels engaged in international travels, and uncooked prawns for use as laboratory or food samples for analysis (27 February 2017)
  5. uncooked Australian wild-caught prawns exported overseas for processing, and re-exported to Australia (Thailand – 27 February; remaining trading partners – 3 April 2017)
  6. uncooked prawns and prawn meat that is marinated for human consumption (15 May 2017).

Interim import conditions have been developed to manage unacceptable biosecurity risks for products and pathways. For example, Australian prawns processed overseas and uncooked marinated prawns are subject to pre-export and on-arrival testing for white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) and yellow head virus (YHV). It is intended the requirement for pre-export and on-arrival testing will be maintained as interim import conditions after the import suspension lapses.

In addition, the department is in the process of finalising import conditions that will apply to allow raw prawns (i.e. those that are uncooked, frozen and have had the head and shell removed (the last shell segment and tail fans permitted)) of non-Australian origin, once the import suspension lapses on 6 July 2017. It is expected that import conditions for raw prawns will also include a requirement for pre-export and on-arrival testing for prawn diseases of concern.

Before the import suspension lapses, the department will release a further Biosecurity Advice and Industry Advice Notice confirming all updated interim import conditions.

This Biosecurity Advice is available via the department’s website. Please pass this notice to other interested parties.

The department’s Prawn Liaison Officer is the first point of contact and can be contacted as follows:

Email: Prawn Liaisonofficer

[signed]

Dr Andrew Cupit
Assistant Secretary
Animal Biosecurity