Qld fishers prepare White Spot lawsuit
More than 100 commercial fishers are preparing a class action against the federal government over the White Spot outbreak that has cost Queensland's prawn industry millions.
Trawlers, crabbers and worm diggers operating out of Moreton Bay say the federal government abandoned them after the deadly disease was found in wild prawn stocks last year.
They are now planning to seek compensation to cover their financial losses.
The disease has cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars and continues to impact fishermen, while state government imposed restocking restrictions placed on farmers hit by the 2016 outbreak were lifted in May.
Queensland Seafood Industry Association (QSIA) chief executive Eric Perez says the move is a last resort after lobbying efforts for compensation failed.
"We have tried every avenue that we physically can to get justice for the fishermen in Moreton Bay as well as the post-harbour sector," Mr Perez said.
"(This is) the only avenue left to law-abiding businesses that consider themselves to have been hard done by and (where) a duty of care has been broken to protect the environment in which they work."
The federal government compensated farmers who incurred the costs of killing their stock and decontaminating facilities when White Spot was first detected in the Logan River near Brisbane and at three land-based prawn farms.
The fishers do not have clean up costs, instead seeking government money to cover their losses.
QSIA is not a party to the class action being developed by solicitor Chris Thompson.
Mr Thompson said he expects more fishers to join the lawsuit.
"They're all hurting very badly as a result, still, and will well into the future," he told AAP.
Michael Wood, a career trawler and vice president of the Moreton Bay Seafood Industry Association, has condemned the government's slow response to White Spot in comparison to its swift reaction to issues affecting live sheep export.
He also pointed to Qantas compensating fishers after chemicals leaked from its hangar at Brisbane Airport last year.
"The federal government has taken no notice of it," Mr Wood said.
"If it becomes endemic we don't know what we're going to do."
Nine of 60,000 samples of prawn taken from the Queensland coast have tested positive for White Spot.
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