*

Eastern School Prawn (2018)

Metapenaeus macleayi

  • Matthew Taylor (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Brett Ingram (Victorian Fisheries Authority)

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

Toggle content

Summary

Eastern School Prawn fisheries occur along the east coast of Australia. Stock status is sustainable in QLD and NSW and undefined in VIC.

Toggle content

Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
New South Wales New South Wales EGF, EPTF, OTF Sustainable Catch, CPUE, environmental models
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
EPTF
Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
Toggle content

Stock Structure

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.

Toggle content

Stock Status

New South Wales

Eastern School Prawn is commercially fished throughout most of its range in New South Wales, although there has been limited harvest between the latitudes 35 and 36°S in recent years. Eastern School Prawn is a fast growing, fast maturing and short lived species which generally exhibits high productivity [Racek 1959], but observations of recruitment and catch indicate substantial influence by environmental conditions (especially rainfall) [Pinto and Maheshwari 2012, Ruello 1973]. Simulation modelling has also established that environmental factors can have a strong influence on Eastern School Prawn catches [Ives et al. 2009]. These traits mean this species displays large inter-annual variations in recruitment. No published stock assessment is available for Eastern School Prawn in New South Wales, so stock status is evaluated through a review of indicators of biomass and fishing pressure, using a weight of evidence approach.

Catches of this species have fluctuated around a long-term average of about 778 t over the period 1998–2017, with no consistent trend evident over this time series. Catches increased steadily over the period 2002–09 from 485–1119 t and decreased thereafter to ~428 t in 2017. The mid-far northern New South Wales coast, in particular the Clarence River, has experienced lower than average spring/summer rainfall since 2014. This is the most likely proximal driver of the patterns observed in the recent catch history. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

Since 2008, fishing effort for Eastern School Prawn has remained well below levels recorded for earlier periods. Overall fishing effort was lower in 2017 (Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery [EPTF] ~3200 days; Estuary General Fishery [EGF] ~1600 days; Ocean Trawl Fishery [OTF] ~250 days), relative to the average effort across the period 2010–16 (EPTF ~4400 days; EGF ~4000 days; OTF ~700 days). Harvest by the EPTF comprised the majority of the catch. Nominal catch rates of Eastern School Prawn in the EPTF were slightly lower in 2017 than for the period 2010–16. However, overall EPTF catch rates have remained positively correlated (R2 = 0.85) with catches over the period 2010–17, indicating that catch trends are largely driven by changes in availability and abundance, probably caused by environmental factors affecting spawning and recruitment success. Thus, fluctuations in stock abundance appear to be environmentally-driven, rather than driven by the fishery itself. The above evidence indicates that the current 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 New South Wales is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content

Biology

Eastern School Prawn biology [Rowling et al. 2010]

Biology
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
Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Eastern School Prawn

Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
New South Wales
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Net
Unspecified
Indigenous
Coastal, Estuary and River Set Nets
Recreational
Coastal, Estuary and River Set Nets
Management methods
Method New South Wales
Commercial
By-catch reduction devices
Limited entry
Size limit
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Vessel number restrictions
Indigenous
Bag limits
Native Title
Section 37 (1d)(3)(9), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority
Recreational
Bag limits
Recreational fishing licence
Active vessels
New South Wales
133 in EGF, 79 in EPTF, 44 in OTF
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
EPTF
Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
Catch
New South Wales
Commercial 124.07t in EGF, 269.19t in EPTF, 31.08t in OTF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational <110 t (2000–01, all prawn species)
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
EPTF
Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)

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.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Eastern School Prawn - note confidential catch not shown

Archived reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.