Keeping Australia free of Crayfish Plague relies on quarantine restrictions recommended by the OIE which prohibits the importation of live crayfish from countries where the disease is either reported or its presence cannot be ruled out. However, in Europe where this strategy is also carried out, attempts to protect native stocks from Crayfish Plague by banning the importation of crayfish have been unsuccessful. Although quarantine protocols have so far excluded the disease agent from Australia, it is vital that an eradication and control strategy is in place in the event of a diagnosis of the disease.
This application seeks to provide the Australian freshwater crayfish industry with an efficient and successful eradication and control strategy for Crayfish Plague that can be immediately applied should a disease incursion occur. The strategy would be based on the experience of other countries affected by the disease, and current and applicable scientific evidence. Detailed knowledge of affected industries, the region and habitat, diagnostic laboratories and current methods is required and the strategy would be developed in consultation with stakeholder groups. The Crayfish Plague disease strategy manual would form part of the AQUAVETPLAN requirements for management of disease incursions as identified by the government under the Emergency Response Management Plan for aquatic diseases.
Crayfish plague is a serious disease of freshwater crayfish in Europe. The infectious agent, Aphanomyces astaci, is an Oomycete that produces hyphae and zoospores and is similar to a fungus. Studies have shown that Australian freshwater crayfish are susceptible to the disease but the disease has never been diagnosed in Australia.
The production of a crayfish plague disease strategy manual was prioritised for funding as part of the Emergency Management Planning Program of the Federal Budget Initiative 'Building a National Approach to Animal and Plant Health'. The project was administered by the Aquatic Animal Health Subprogram of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. The manual was developed with extensive consultation with key industry and government groups, including public meetings in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.