In addition to being entrenched in consultation and extension activities relating to White Spot, the ACPF made submissions to the ‘Parliamentary Inquiry into the biosecurity risks associated with the importation of seafood and seafood products (including uncooked prawns and uncooked prawn meat) into Australia’ and the ‘Review of the circumstances leading to the 2017 suspension of uncooked prawn imports into Australia and the biosecurity considerations relevant to future trade in uncooked prawns’ for the Commonwealth Inspector-General of Biosecurity in consultation with our members. The Chair also gave telephone evidence at the Senate Committee hearing on 10th April 2017.
The ACPF understands that it is impossible for Australia to have a ‘no risk’ approach to disease prevention, and that Australia currently does not supply enough of its own prawns to meet consumer demand for prawns. On that basis, the ACPF called for a review of the current biosecurity protocols for prawns and the implementation of a risk-based, enforceable system, consistent with World Trade Organisation principles, that protects Australia’s waterways, fisheries and prawn farms from risk of exotic foreign disease incursions as far as practical.
Biosecurity Australia recently announced a review of the Import Risk Assessment for imported prawns which is likely to take approximately 2 years to complete. The Department also announced that the current ban on uncooked and marinated products will not be reimposed when it expires on 6th July. Uncooked and marinated prawns will have increased testing from 25% inspection rate to 100% inspection and testing for WSSV and YHV. 100% consignments of crumbed and battered prawns will also be inspected after arrival in Australia to verify that products are genuinely highly processed. For further details on importation requirements go to http://www.agriculture.gov.au
The ACPF is writing to government to express concern about the decision to allow re-importation of prawns from countries where White Spot is prevalent prior to the IRA review being undertaken. The ACPF is also providing input to the Department on the development of a proposed Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) for the commercial fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
Of the 30,000 tonnes of prawns imported each year until the end of 2016, 10,000 tonnes were uncooked, 7,000 tonnes marinated, and 13,000 tonnes cooked/crumbed/battered. Much of the uncooked product was destined for food service and the food service sector reported that prawns were being taken off the menu due to their increased cost.
The opportunity for Australian prawns to reclaim market share in the food service sector still remains despite the green prawn import ban being lifted in July. The NSW Government is to implement a Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) solution in the food service sector in NSW by December 2017. The Australian Government has also committed to investigating a CoOL solution and will report to Parliament by December 2017. It has also been agreed that the Love Australian Prawns campaign will expand its investment into the food service sector in the Year 5 campaign. We know that many Australians prefer to buy Australian and better menu transparency is expected to drive demand for Australian prawns.