The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (the department) takes the biosecurity risks associated with imported prawns seriously. We have released the final report for the Review of the biosecurity risks of prawns imported from all countries for human consumption (the prawn review).
Release of the final report is the culmination of many years’ work by the department working in close collaboration with stakeholders. In conducting the prawn 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:
- additional assurance that all prawns and prawn products are frozen
- a minimum cooking temperature for cooked prawns
- all imported whole uncooked prawns must 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 1 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 our international rights and obligations and supported by risk assessments. These measures are necessary to protect Australia’s domestic producers, native crustacean species, and our 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 Organization to consult with trading partners. The department will work directly with our trading partners on transitional arrangements to minimise trade disruption while continuing to manage the biosecurity risk. It is anticipated that implementation will commence from 13 October 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.
- The prawn review was initiated following Australia's first white spot disease outbreak in south-east Queensland in 2016-17, incorporating analysis of new and emerging diseases and advances in scientific knowledge since the release of the prawn import risk analysis in 2009.
See further information on prawn imports and biosecurity.