Review of Prawns and Prawn Products

We have completed the draft report for the review of the biosecurity risks posed by the importation into Australia (from all countries) of non-viable, farm-sourced, frozen, uncooked, whole prawns intended for human consumption.

Steps to complete this risk analysis

When we do a risk analysis, we:

  • start the risk analysis by reviewing the science on pests and diseases of concern
  • assess and analyse biosecurity risks
  • develop proposed biosecurity measures
  • consult stakeholders on the draft report and then review comments
  • publish a final report
  • develop import conditions
  • publish import conditions in our Biosecurity Import Conditions System (BICON).

About this review

We initiated this review following an outbreak of white spot disease in 2016–17.

We have assessed the biosecurity risks of importing non-viable, farm-sourced, frozen, uncooked whole prawns intended for human consumption, developed proposed measures to manage the identified risks and released a draft report for stakeholder comment.

Current import conditions for prawns and prawn products remain in place pending the outcomes of this review. During this time, if the biosecurity risks change, we may amend the relevant import conditions.

Learn more about why we carry out risk analyses and our international obligations.

We released a draft report in September 2020 and invited your feedback by 15 January 2021. We received submissions covering a wide range of perspectives.

Download submissions

Your feedback will help inform our final report for the review of the biosecurity risk of prawns imported from all countries for human consumption. As we consider your submissions, we may contact you to discuss them further.

All science-based submissions are being considered as we prepare our final report.

Engaging members of the scientific advisory group

We engaged members of the scientific advisory group (SAG) in their capacity as independent experts. The members of the SAG have reviewed whether we have properly considered relevant matters and made appropriate conclusions based on the available scientific information when conducting the review.

The members of the SAG are Dr Joanne Daly PSM, Mr Steve McCutcheon and Mr Will Zacharin. The members have expertise in risk analysis and economics.

To support this review, the members of the SAG also sought technical and scientific advice from three independent experts.

The members of the SAG provided a report to the Director of Biosecurity for consideration. You can download the report.

The members of the SAG will also review the provisional final report to determine whether the department has appropriately considered their findings, the stakeholder submissions received in response to the draft report and any new scientific evidence received since the draft report was released.

Download report

Document Pages File size
Expert Panel Review PDF 25 550 KB
Expert Panel Review DOCX 25 71 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, please visit web accessibility.

Next steps

We are carefully considering the following when determining what changes to make to the draft report:

  • all submissions received during the stakeholder consultation period
  • all new information
  • the expert panel review report from the members of the SAG
  • the outcomes of the surveys about the use of prawns for bait or berley by recreational fishers.

The final step in the process is to release the final report and publish any new import conditions on BICON. Register in BICON to receive an alert when we publish the import conditions.

About the draft report

We propose that prawns continue to be permitted import into Australia. All imports must meet the agreed biosecurity import conditions.

The draft report details:

  • disease agents of biosecurity concern for prawns
  • risk assessments for the identified disease agents of biosecurity concern
  • import conditions – proposed risk management measures.

Disease agents

The draft report identifies disease agents that need risk management measures. These agents are:

  • Candidatus Hepatobacter penaei” (chilled product only)
  • covert mortality nodavirus
  • decapod iridescent virus 1
  • Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei
  • infectious myonecrosis virus
  • Laem-Singh virus
  • Taura syndrome virus
  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus strains containing Pir toxins
  • white spot syndrome virus (WSSV)
  • yellow head virus genotype 1 (YHV1).

Risk management measures

The draft report proposes a combination of biosecurity measures to achieve Australia’s appropriate level of protection, specifically:

  • sourcing from free populations
  • cooking
  • freezing
  • value-added products which encompasses breaded, battered and crumbed prawns, and dumpling and dim sum type-products containing uncooked prawns
  • head and shell removal (last tail segment and tail fans permitted)
  • deveining (removal of the digestive tract to at least the last shell segment)
  • batch testing (pre-export and on-arrival for WSSV and YHV1)
  • labelling for human consumption-only.

Download the draft report

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, September 2020

Document Pages File size
Review of the biosecurity risks of prawns imported from all countries for human consumption – draft report PDF 345 4.1 MB
Review of the biosecurity risks of prawns imported from all countries for human consumption – draft report DOCX 345 3.9 MB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, please visit web accessibility for help.

Consultation webinar

In November 2020 we held a webinar with over 120 registered participants over two hours to discuss the draft report. You can download the presentation and a transcript of the presentation and question and answer session.

Download webinar presentation and transcript

Document Pages File size
Webinar presentation PDF 32 5.4 MB
Webinar presentation PPTX 32 5.2 MB
Transcript of presentation and question and answer session PDF 34 460 KB
Transcript of presentation and question and answer session DOCX 34 173 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, please visit web accessibility for help.

Additional questions

Unfortunately, we did not have time to answer all questions posed to us before or during the webinar. We have prepared answers to these additional questions.

Download additional questions and answers

Document Pages File size
Additional questions and answers PDF 6 330 KB
Additional questions and answers DOCX 6 135 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for help.

Previous communication and consultation

We put in place a Prawn Review Liaison Officer (PRLO) and undertook several consultation and communication activities. We are committed to ongoing communication and consultation with all stakeholders throughout the process of the review.

Prawn Review Liaison Officer

The PRLO will be in place for the duration of the review and is the first point of contact to discuss the review.

A PRLO update newsletter is provided to subscribed stakeholders on a periodic basis. It includes updates and relevant information about the review.

Anyone can request the PRLO update newsletter by contacting the PRLO at Prawn Review.

Implementation of interim risk management measure for Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei

In July 2020 we implemented the interim import condition requiring all uncooked prawns imported for human consumption, from all countries, to be deveined (removal of the digestive tract) during processing to manage biosecurity risks associated with the prawn pathogen, Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP).

Whilst conducting the review, we identified an unacceptable biosecurity risk associated with EHP. Deveining was considered to be the most effective and practical measure to allow ongoing trade while the review is underway, and to manage the biosecurity risk of EHP to a level that meets Australia’s appropriate level of protection.

Availability of the hazard table for stakeholders

In April 2019 we completed the Draft hazard identification table (hazard table) for the review. The hazard table lists identified potential hazards of prawns and categorises them as a ‘hazard’ which is subject to a risk assessment, or ‘not a hazard’ and no further assessment is done for that pathogen.

The hazard table was peer reviewed by two leading experts in infectious diseases of crustaceans. We have considered the reviewers’ comments and are confident that the outcomes of the hazard identification are scientifically justified and consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

The hazard table is available in the draft report.

Scientific submissions on prawn import conditions

In March 2018 we invited scientific submissions on specific issues with:

  • Australia's current prawn import conditions
  • the Final generic import risk analysis report for prawns and prawn products 2009 (Prawn IRA).

The scientific information provided in the submissions was taken into account in the hazard identification, and is being considered while conducting the risk assessments.

Download submissions

Roundtable discussion

In February 2018 we hosted a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders in Canberra. Affected stakeholders, from all stakeholder groups attended.

This was an opportunity to:

  • discuss the risk analysis and future direction of the review
  • ask questions
  • hear differing views
  • voice concerns.

Download the roundtable summary

Document Pages File size
Prawn roundtable meeting Feb 2018 - Summary report PDF 19 984 KB
Prawn roundtable meeting Feb 2018 - Summary report DOCX  19 702 KB

If you have difficulty accessing these files, visit web accessibility for help.

New scientific information

Risk analyses are based on available information and existing science.

You can provide us with new scientific information at any time, even after a risk analysis is completed. New scientific information can be sent to the PRLO at Prawn Review.

Contact us

To contact us about the review, email the PRLO at Prawn Review.

Register as a stakeholder

Register as a stakeholder to receive notices about animal biosecurity policy.

Last reviewed: 2 June 2021
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