Eastern School Prawn (2018)
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Eastern School Prawn fisheries occur along the east coast of Australia. Stock status is sustainable in QLD and NSW and undefined in VIC.
Stock Status Overview
|Queensland||Queensland||ECOTF, RIBTF||Sustainable||Catch, CPUE, risk assessment|
- East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (QLD)
- River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery (QLD)
Eastern School Prawn fisheries occur along the east coast of Australia, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Genetic work on the biological stock structure of this species is limited. There is some evidence for genetic differentiation between populations occurring from Tweed Heads northward (north of the Noosa River and Tweed River) and those from estuaries in New South Wales (estuaries within New South Wales were genetically homogenous ) [Mulley and Latter 1981]. No genetic information is available for Victorian populations.
As a result of uncertainty regarding the biological stock structure of Eastern School Prawn, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Biomass and fishing pressure evidence for the status of Eastern School Prawn in Queensland is primarily derived from the River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery (RIBTF), which targets this species. Catch and effort within the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery is opportunistic and highly variable, and has not been used to determine stock status.
Annual catches in the RIBTF have tended to be variable, peaking at more than 130 tonnes (t) in 1991, 1995 and 2004, but averaging 55 t over the entire period 1990–2017. The mean annual catch (6 t) in recent years (2013–17) has been below the long-term average. Nominal catch rates were reasonably stable over the early part of the fishery and then increased from 47 kg per day in 2000 (64 per cent of the 1990–2017 long-term average of 74 kg per day) to more than 94 kg per day in 2017 (27 per cent greater than the long-term average).
Eastern School Prawn inhabit numerous estuarine habitats in Queensland and a portion of this biomass remains unfished, with fishing effort being confined to accessible sections of larger river systems due to vessel size. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.
Fishing effort has declined steadily over the history of the fishery, particularly since 2009, following several licence reduction schemes. After fluctuating around an average of about 930 days fished per year from 1990–2010, effort decreased to around 280 days fished per year over the 2011–13 period, declining further to slightly more than 30 days fished per year in 2017 [QDAF 2018a].
An ecological risk assessment established that Eastern School Prawn had a high resilience to fishing pressure [QDAF 2018b], and found that the species was at a low risk of being overfished at 2009 effort levels. Current effort (days fished) is substantially less than 2009 effort levels and the number of licences reporting catch is also at historically low levels. This current low level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, Eastern School Prawn in Queensland is classified as a sustainable stock.
Eastern School Prawn biology [Rowling et al. 2010]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Eastern School Prawn||Male 32 months, 32 mm CL Female 32 months, 32 mm CL||Male 97 mm TL Female 132 mm TL|
Distribution of reported commercial catch of Eastern School Prawn
|By-catch reduction devices|
|Vessel number restrictions|
|Commercial||4.27t in ECOTF|
- East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (QLD)
Queensland – Indigenous (Management Methods) Under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland are entitled to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits.
New South Wales – Commercial (Management Methods) Size limit – Prawn counts apply to commercial fisheries in NSW and serve as a proxy to size limit.
New South Wales – Indigenous (Management Methods) (a) The Aboriginal Cultural Fishing Interim Access Arrangement allows an Indigenous fisher in New South Wales to take in excess of a recreational bag limit in certain circumstances—for example, if they are doing so to provide fish to other community members who cannot harvest themselves; (b) The Aboriginal cultural fishing authority is the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority; and (c) In cases where the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) applies fishing activity can be undertaken by the person holding native title in line with S.211 of that Act, which provides for fishing activities for the purpose of satisfying their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs. In managing the resource where native title has been formally recognised, the native title holders are engaged with to ensure their native title rights are respected and inform management of the State's fisheries resources.
Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise fishing for specific Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). There were no Indigenous permits granted in 2017 and hence no Indigenous catch recorded.
Commercial catch of Eastern School Prawn - note confidential catch not shown
- Mulley, J and Latter, B 1981, Geographic differentiation of eastern Australian penaeid prawn populations, Marine and Freshwater Research, 32: 889–895.
- Pinto, U and Maheshwari, B 2012, Impacts of water quality on the harvest of school prawn (Metapenaeus macleayi) in a peri-urban river system, Journal Of Shellfish Research, 31: 847–853.
- Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018a, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane.
- Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018b, An ecological risk assessment of the East Coast Trawl Fishery in southern Queensland including the River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
- Racek, AA 1959, Prawn investigations in eastern Australia, State Fisheries Research Bulletin, 6: 1–57.
- Rowling, K, Hegarty, A and Ives, M 2010, Status of fisheries resources in NSW 2008–09, New South Wales Industry and Investment, Cronulla.
- Ruello NV 1973, Influence of rainfall on distribution and abundance of school prawn Metapenaeus macleayi in Hunter River Region (Australia), Marine Biology, 23: 221–228.
- VFA Unpublished. Species Stock Status Summary 2017–Eastern school prawns