22 November 2010
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, today released a report into a quarantine incident, prepared by the Interim Inspector General of Biosecurity.
Minister Ludwig said the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service would implement all of the recommendations of the report into the inadvertent release of two consignments of raw, peeled prawns, by AQIS.
Two consignments of imported prawns returned positive results on tests for the White Spot Syndrome Virus. The White Spot Syndrome Virus is a disease affecting prawns. It poses no threat to human health.
Test results should have resulted in the prawns being destroyed or re-exported. However the prawns were released into the retail supply chain.
“Australia relies on a strong biosecurity system and these sorts of errors are unacceptable to the community,” Minister Ludwig said.
“The Government takes biosecurity very seriously because it protects Australia from exotic pests and diseases.”
“When I became aware of this incident I requested an immediate investigation. I have now received an initial report from the Interim Inspector General of Biosecurity, Dr Kevin Dunn, into the causes of the release.”
Dr Dunn noted the most likely cause of this quarantine incident was human error and has made seven recommendations to improve the system of processing test results.
“I want to make it clear this incident does not pose any risk to human health,” Minister Ludwig said.
“AQIS will implement all the recommendations in the report which will minimise the risk of re-occurrence.”
A final report is due to the Minister shortly for consideration. A copy of the first report including Dr Dunn’s recommendations can be downloaded at http://www.daff.gov.au/iigb.