New testing lab takes pressure off prawn farmers

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By Milthon Lujan

Australia.- James Cook University have been officially accredited to test for serious disease causing pathogens in prawns – relieving pressure on stretched testing services and providing a much faster turn-around service for the Queensland aquaculture industry.

The Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer has approved JCU’s state-of-the art facilities to test for White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) and Yellow Head Virus-1 (YHV-1).

Kelly Condon, Senior Research Officer at JCU’s AquaPATH Lab, said in the wake of an unprecedented outbreak of white spot in the southern Queensland prawn industry, farmers have increased pathogen testing of stock.

“It meant that Queensland’s existing testing facilities have been placed in very high demand. The new facilities at JCU will certainly be busy, especially as there is now a requirement for all brood stock to also be tested for the devastating exotic WSSV that has been detected in southern Queensland,” she said.

“The prawn farming industry in Southeast Queensland was badly damaged by the WSSV outbreak in December 2016 and the continued presence of WSSV in wild crustaceans in Moreton Bay poses a risk to the recovery of the fisheries and aquaculture industries in the region,” said Ms Condon.

JCU is one of only two universities in Australia to possess National Association of Testing Authorities accreditation in the field of Animal Health, with permission to test for WSSV and YHV-1.

JCU’s Professor Dean Jerry, Director of the ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding, said “development of a pathogen testing facility and obtaining approval to test for serious disease organisms like WSSV is a good example of how JCU works with industry to provide solutions to increase their productivity and lower risk”.

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“It took over a year to get the accreditation, the process is very stringent, but having a testing lab at JCU will be a major boost in biosecurity capability for the Northern Australia region,” said Professor Jerry.

Ms Condon was recently awarded the Australian Prawn Farming Industry Innovation and Research Development Contribution Award at the 2018 Australian Prawn Farmers Symposium.

Source: James Cook University

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