Fishers are urged not to use import green or cooked prawns for bait due to its high risk of spreading White Spot virus.
Fishers are urged not to use import green or cooked prawns for bait due to its high risk of spreading White Spot virus. Rachel Vercoe

Buying local key to preventing prawn virus spread

AN INCREASED push to buy local prawn bait has been strengthened in light of the looming threat of White Spot.

Trawler operators, live bait suppliers and prawn farms from the Queensland border north to the Morton Bay area have been hit hard since the virus outbreak late last year.

Prawn sampling and a surveillance program from the Queensland border to the Hawkesbury, as well as all prawn farms in NSW, has been rolled out by the Department of Primary Industries to prevent the spread of the disease.

Minister for Primary Industries, Niall Blair has warned people fishing, crabbing or trapping yabbies in any of the state's waterways not to use prawns intended for human consumption as bait because it could spread White Spot.

Owner of Dave's Bait and Tackle Ballina, Ian Hush said the best bait is the fresh frozen green prawns provided by local commercial fisherman.

"It's the prawns the fish are actually eating out of the system your about to fish in," Mr Hush said.

"Aside from the actual legality, we should be talking about the quality."

Mr Hush said the store provide DPI pamphlets to inform fisherman about legal and illegal baits.

Professional Fishers Association executive officer, Tricia Beatty said meetings with commercial and recreational fishers was among its preventative measures to mitigate the risk of recreational fishers using green, imported prawns.

"We are right at the forefront mitigating the risk of (white spot) entering NSW waters," Ms Beatty said.

She said signage has been erected at boat ramps to remind fishers not to use bait in the form of import prawns, nippers, yabbies other crustaceans or marine worms.

So far, there has been no detection of White Spot in marine life in NSW waters.

White Spot is highly contagious for for primarily prawns, but it can also affect crabs, lobsters, marine worms and freshwater crayfish - it does not affect people with NSW seafood remains safe to eat.