*

Eastern School Prawn

Metapenaeus macleayi

  • Matthew Taylor (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • James Andrews (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Victoria)
  • Megan Leslie (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)

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

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)1. Little genetic information is available for Victorian populations.

As a result of uncertainty regarding the biological stock structure of Eastern School Prawn, here 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. Destructive flooding on the New South Wales east coast and associated deterioration in water quality likely affected catches in 2015, particularly on the mid-New South Wales coast. This was observed as a decrease in the Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery (EPTF) catches in the Hunter River and Hawkesbury River relative to the previous year, and in the Estuary General Fishery catches in the central and mid-north coast regions.

Catches of this species have tended to fluctuate around a long-term average of about 780 t over the period 2000–154. In 2002–09, catches increased steadily from 460–1115 t, and decreased thereafter to 621 t in 2015. Average annual catches over these two periods remained at 780 and 782 t respectively. Recent research and modelling have established that environmental factors can have a strong influence on Eastern School Prawn catches5, and this has likely contributed to the patterns observed. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

Effort in the EPTF in 2015 was slightly greater than the average across the period 2010–14 (around 4027 days), although there was no fishing effort in the Hunter River within the EPTF in the spring/summer of the 2015–16 season due to a voluntary fishery closure. Catch rates of Eastern School Prawn in the EPTF were higher in 2015 than for the period 2010–14, driven mainly by greater catches and higher catch rates in the Clarence River. Since 2005, overall catch rates have tended to be positively correlated with catches4, 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. This level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Eastern School Prawn in New South Wales is classified as a sustainable stock.

Toggle content

Biology

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

Eastern School Prawn biology6

Toggle content

Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Eastern School Prawn

Toggle content

Tables

Fishing methods
New South Wales
Commercial
Stow Net
Haul Seine
Otter Trawl
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
Section 31 (1)(c1), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority
Recreational
Bag limits
Recreational fishing licence
Active vessels
New South Wales
137 in EGF, 91 in EPTF, 51 in OTF
EGF
Estuary General Fishery (NSW)
EPTF
Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery (NSW)
OTF
Ocean Trawl Fishery (NSW)
Catch
New South Wales
Commercial 160.35t in EGF, 394.28t in EPTF, 65.99t 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)

a Queensland – Indigenous 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.

b New South Wales – Commercial (management methods) Prawn counts apply to commercial fisheries in NSW and serve as a proxy to size limit.

c New South Wales – Indigenous (management methods) 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.

d New South Wales – Indigenous (management methods) Aboriginal cultural fishing authority - the authority that Indigenous persons can apply to take catches outside the recreational limits under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW), Section 37 (1)(c1), Aboriginal cultural fishing authority.

e  Victoria – Indigenous In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing are also applied to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Recognised Traditional Owners (groups that hold native title or have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 [Vic]) are exempt (subject to conditions) from the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, and can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise customary fishing (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment). The Indigenous category in Table 3 refers to customary fishing undertaken by recognised Traditional Owners. In 2015, there were no applications for customary fishing permits to access Eastern School Prawn.

f Victoria – Indigenous Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing.

Toggle content

Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Eastern School Prawn

Toggle content

Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Prawn trawling causes a physical disturbance of the seafloor8, and interacts with benthic communities9. A comprehensive study in the Clarence River estuary did not find any significant impacts of estuarine prawn trawling on benthic assemblages10.
  • Non-target species caught incidentally by trawl nets are generally discarded, either because they have low market value or are not permitted to be retained. Bycatch consists mainly of small fish, crabs, other penaeid prawns, small Eastern School Prawn, and numerous other bottom-dwelling invertebrate species, including sponges, sea stars and gastropod shellfish.
  • Small Eastern School Prawn that escape from trawl codends generally have reasonable survival11, although trawl sorting time has a major effect on prawn survival following discarding12.
  • Various approaches have been adopted to reduce by-catch in prawn trawl fisheries, including various codend modifications13,14.
Toggle content

Environmental effects on Eastern School Prawn

  • Climate change may have a significant effect on the distribution of this species. Under a scenario of increasing sea surface temperatures and a strengthening East Australian Current, the distribution of Eastern School Prawn is predicted to shift southwards, resulting in a southward shift in availability, potentially impacting the timing of spawning and migration for Eastern School Prawn and decreasing variability in their recruitment15. Recent reductions in northern catches and increases in southern catches may be evidence of such a shift.
  • Environmental models have also indicated that the growth and movement of Eastern School Prawn are affected by rates of river discharge, and that higher rates of river discharge may generate increased commercial catches and a higher stock biomass5.
  • Broader catchment condition can lead to changes in estuarine water quality, especially during times of high river discharge. Such changes have been shown to affect catches of Eastern School Prawn in temperate New South Wales16.
  • Production of prawn species is often positively correlated with the availability of key habitats in estuarine systems17.
Toggle content

References

  1. 1 Mulley, J and Latter, B 1981, Geographic differentiation of eastern Australian penaeid prawn populations, Marine and Freshwater Research, 32: 889–895.
  2. 2 Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2016, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop 2016, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  3. 3 Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (in prep.), 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.
  4. 4 Taylor, MD 2016, School Prawn (Metapenaeus macleayi), Status of fisheries resources in NSW, 2013–14, Taylors Beach, Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, pp 281–284.
    http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/598436/INT16-61462-Attachment-C-Status-of-Fisheries-Resources-in-NSW-2013-14-Full-Report-406-pages-updated.pdf
  5. 5 Ives, MC, Scandol, JP, Montgomery, SS and Suthers, IM 2009, Modelling the possible effects of climate change on an Australian multi-fleet prawn fishery, Marine and Freshwater Research, 60: 1211–1222.
  6. 6 Racek, AA 1959, Prawn investigations in eastern Australia, State Fisheries Research Bulletin, 6: 1–57.
  7. 7 Rowling, K, Hegarty, A and Ives, M 2010, Status of fisheries resources in NSW 2008–09, New South Wales Industry and Investment, Cronulla.
  8. 8 New South Wales Fisheries 2003, Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery: environmental impact statement, Cronulla Fisheries Centre, Cronulla.
  9. 9 Hutchings, P 1990, Review of the effects of trawling on macrobenthic epifaunal communities, Marine and Freshwater Research, 41: 111–120.
  10. 10 Underwood, AJ 2000, Assessment and management of potential impacts of prawn trawling on estuarine assemblages, Final report for Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2000/176, University of Sydney, Sydney.
  11. 11 Broadhurst, MK, Barker, DT, Paterson, BD and Kennelly, SJ 2002, Fate of juvenile school prawns, Metapenaeus macleayi, after simulated capture and escape from trawls, Marine and Freshwater Research, 53: 1189–1196.
  12. 12 Macbeth, WG, Broadhurst, MK, Paterson, BD and Wooden, MEL 2006, Reducing the short-term mortality of juvenile school prawns (Metapenaeus macleayi) discarded during trawling, ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil, 63: 831–839.
  13. 13 Broadhurst, MK and Kennelly, SJ 1995, A trouser-trawl experiment to assess codends that exclude juvenile mulloway (Argyrosomus hololepidotus) in the Hawkesbury River prawn-trawl fishery, Marine and Freshwater Research, 46: 953–958.
  14. 14 Broadhurst, MK, Sterling, DJ and Millar, RB 2014, Configuring the mesh size, side taper and wing depth of penaeid trawls to reduce environmental impacts, PLoS ONE, 9: e99434.
  15. 15 Montgomery, SS 1990, Possible impacts of the greenhouse effect on commercial prawn populations and fisheries in New South Wales, Wetlands (Australia), 10: 35–39.
  16. 16 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.
  17. 17 Meynecke, J-O, Lee, SY, Duke, NC and Warnken, J 2007, Relationships between estuarine habitats and coastal fisheries in Queensland, Australia, Bulletin of Marine Science, 80: 773–793. 

Archived reports

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nunc vel ornare magna, nec viverra ante. Ut in ipsum tellus.