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TIGER PRAWNS

Penaeus esculentus, Penaeus semisulcatus, Penaeus esculentus & Penaeus semisulcatus

  • James Larcombe (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Brad Zeller (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Matthew Taylor (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Mervi Kangas (Department of Fisheries, Western Australia)

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn) ECOTF Sustainable Biomass estimate, CPUE, catch, effort
ECOTF
East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (QLD)
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Stock Structure

The standard name ‘Tiger Prawn’ refers to the species Penaeus esculentus, P. semisulcatus and P. japonicus. Only P. esculentus (Brown Tiger Prawn) and P. semisulcatus (Grooved Tiger Prawn) are considered in this chapter; P. japonicus is not caught commercially in Australian waters.

Brown Tiger Prawns are endemic to tropical and subtropical waters of Australia, while Grooved Tiger Prawns have a wider Indo–West Pacific distribution. There is some genetic evidence of separation of Brown Tiger Prawn stocks from the east and west coasts of Australia1.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Northern Prawn Fishery (Commonwealth) Brown Tiger Prawn, Northern Prawn Fishery (Commonwealth) Grooved Tiger Prawn, Torres Strait Prawn Fishery (Commonwealth) Brown Tiger Prawn, Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) Brown Tiger Prawn, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) Brown Tiger Prawn, North Coast Prawn Managed Fisheries (Western Australia) Brown Tiger Prawn, East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland) Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn; and at the jurisdictional level—New South Wales.

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Stock Status

East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn)

Recent quantitiative assessment using weekly delay-difference modelling of the combined Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn resource in the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland) (ECOTF) indicates that fishing mortality may have been above sustainable levels before 2000, depleting spawning stock biomass to 80‑90 per cent of the level required to achieve MSY (SMSY)18. The spawning stock in the north and south regional sub-stocks which contribute approximately 80 per cent of the landings from this resource, has since recovered to levels consistently at or above two times SMSY (north region) and between 1.2 and two times SMSY (south region)18. Nominal catch rate is approximately 45 per cent above the 2000–15 average in the north and south sub-stock regions and in Moreton Bay which contributes 15 per cent of ECOTF Tiger Prawn landings19,20. In addition, a significant proportion of the known Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn distribution is protected in areas closed to trawling. In 2005, an estimated 38 per cent of the Brown Tiger Prawn biomass and 26 per cent of the Grooved Tiger Prawn biomass within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP), which encompasses the spatial distributions of both north and south region Tiger Prawn sub-stocks was made unavailable to trawling as a result of permanent closures in 200421. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this management unit is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

In 2000–07, total catch showed a decreasing trend, but this coincided with a significant decline in fishing effort related to: a one-third (130 vessel) reduction in the East Coast Trawl fleet, resulting from introduction of the Fishery Management Plan containing structural adjustment elements. These included: vessel buy-backs, effort quotas and penalties for vessel replacement and quota transfer from 200122; a second buy-back of 21 vessels with effort quota associated with spatial expansion of GBRMP no-fishing zones in 200423; and from 2004–09, significant adverse weather and economic externalities, including rising cost of fuel, competition from farmed prawns and crew loss during the mining boom, which negatively impacted the viability of the fishery in general24. Catch and effort have been more stable since 2007 and slightly above historical low levels20. At 1335 t, the 2015 catch is well below the aggregated north and south region sub-stocks MSY estimate of 1833 t18. Recent assessment of combined Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn fishing effort18,20,25 estimated an aggregated effort to achieve MSY (EMSY) of 32 877 fishing days. From 2007–15, effort has been well below this level. Semi-quantitative risk assessment of individual Tiger Prawn species found that the risk of their becoming recruitment overfished at the level of fishing pressure exerted on the management unit in 2009 was low for Brown Tiger Prawn26,27, low for Grooved Tiger Prawn south of the GBRMP27 and intermediate for Grooved Tiger Prawn within the GBRMP26. Although fishing power for Tiger Prawn is estimated to be increasing at a rate of 1.5–3 per cent per year18, since 2009 the number of trawl days in the GBRMP has declined by 24 per cent20. Effective fishing effort in the GBRMP is therefore unlikely to be increasing. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the management unit to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the multispecies East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland) Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
TIGER PRAWNS 1–2 years; 55 mm CL  East coast: ~6 months; 32–39 mm CL West coast: ~6 months; 27–35 mm CL Northern Australia: ~6 months; 32–39 mm CL

Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn biology10,28,29

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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Tiger Prawns

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Tables

Fishing methods
Queensland
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Recreational
Cast Net
Management methods
Method Queensland
Commercial
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Vessel restrictions
Recreational
Possession limit
Active vessels
Queensland
213 in ECOTF
ECOTF
East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (QLD)
Catch
Queensland
Commercial 1.35Kt in ECOTF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown
ECOTF
East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (QLD)

Recreationala Indigenousb,c

 

a The Australian Government does not manage recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under its management regulations.

b The Australian Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters, with the exception of the Torres Strait. In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the state or territory immediately adjacent to those waters. In the Torres Strait, both commercial and non-commercial Indigenous fishing is managed by the Torres Strait Protected Zone Joint Authority (PZJA) through the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (Commonwealth); the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Queensland); and the Torres Strait Regional Authority. The PZJA also manages non-Indigenous commercial fishing in the Torres Strait.

c In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers are able 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 can be obtained through permits.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Tiger Prawns

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Effects of fishing on the marine environment

  • Management is in place to reduce the impact of trawling on habitats. In Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) occupies 63 per cent of the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland) (ECOTF)30, 34 per cent of which is open to trawling26, but effort is highly aggregated, occurring within only a small fraction of the open area. South of the GBRMP, the fishery operates in only 10 per cent of the area open to trawling31. In Western Australia, extensive permanent and temporary closures result in the fleet operating in only seven per cent of the Shark Bay fishery region and 17 per cent of inner Shark Bay10,32,33, generally less than 30 per cent of the Exmouth Gulf10,34,35, and less than three per cent of the north coast region10. Fishing operations are restricted to areas of sand and mud, where trawling has minimal long-term physical impact,35–37. The Northern Prawn Fishery (Commonwealth) (NPF) also uses a system of closures (spatial and seasonal) to manage the fishery, as well as other input controls (for example, limited entry, gear restrictions). A total of 2.1 per cent of the total managed area of the fishery is subject to permanent closures, while 8.3 per cent is subject to seasonal closures38.
  • Although the incidental capture of by-product and bycatch species by trawling can lead to a range of indirect ecosystem effects39, studies in Queensland and Western Australia found no significant difference in biodiversity or overall distribution patterns of seabed biota between trawled and non-trawled areas21,34,35. An assessment of trawl-related risk in the GBRMP found that the ECOTF posed no more than an intermediate risk of overfishing species assemblages exposed to trawling26. Spatial contraction and/or temporal reduction in effort in these jurisdictions (see above) are likely to have mitigated the ecosystem impacts of trawling. Similarly, in the NPF, the ecological risk management report identifies priority species at high risk. However, no target or protected species have been assessed as high risk because of the fishery40.
  • The use of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) is mandatory in all Australian tropical prawn trawl fisheries. BRDs can significantly reduce bycatch—by more than 50 per cent by weight in some fisheries41. In the ECOTF, the use of BRDs became mandatory in 1999, and the introduction of turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in 2001 largely eliminated capture of most large bycatch species, including turtles, sharks and rays42. BRDs and TEDs became mandatory in the NPF in 2001. Use of TEDs in the NPF reduced turtle bycatch from 5700 individuals per year (pre-2001) to approximately 30 per year (post-2001)43. The introduction of TEDs in the Western Australian trawl fisheries in 2003 reduced turtle bycatch by at least 95 per cent44. BRDs and TEDs have been mandatory in the Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) since 2003 and in all northern Western Australian prawn fisheries since 2005. All prawn trawlers operating in Western Australia must now use TEDs and BRDs, including secondary fish exclusion devices and hoppers to increase survival of returned fish. Commitment to continuous improvement in bycatch mitigation has facilitated increased use of best-practice TEDs and BRDs in the ECOTF since 2008. Recent ecological risk assessments of the fishery have acknowledged reduced impact of trawling and a general absence of high risk of overfishing most bycatch species26,27.
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Environmental effects on TIGER PRAWNS

  • Biomass of prawns can be highly variable and affected by environmental factors such as water temperatures, cyclones and broad-scale oceanographic features45. Cyclones can have either a positive or a negative impact on prawn biomass and availability. Early season (December–January) cyclones can increase mortality of small prawns through the scouring of nursery areas, destroying seagrass and algal habitats46. Conversely, mortality can decrease when water becomes turbid, because predation decreases10. A marine heatwave during the summers of 2010–11 and 2012–13, with water temperatures reaching record high levels in 2012–13, may have affected the structured nursery habitat of Tiger Prawns in the Exmouth Gulf, resulting in very low recruitment43.
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References

  1. 1 Ward, R, Ovenden, J, Meadows, J, Grewe, P and Lehnert, S 2006, Population genetic structure of the brown tiger prawn, Penaeus esculentus, in tropical northern Australia, Marine Biology, 148(3): 599–607.
  2. 2 Buckworth, RC, Hutton, T, Deng, R, Upston, J 2016, Status of the Northern Prawn Fishery Tiger Prawn fishery at the end of 2015 with TAE estimation for 2016, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra, 2016.
  3. 3 Larcombe, J and Bath, A 2016, Northern Prawn Fishery, in H Patterson, R Noriega, L Georgeson, I Stobutzki and R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2016, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.           
  4. 4 O’Neill, MF and Turnbull, CT 2006, Stock assessment of the Torres Strait Tiger Prawn Fishery (Penaeus esculentus), Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  5. 5 Taylor, S, Turnbull, C, Marrington, J and George, M (eds) 2007, Torres Strait prawn handbook 2007, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  6. 6 Williams A and Mazur, K 2016, Torres Strait Prawn Fishery, in H Patterson, R Noriega, L Georgeson, I Stobutzki and R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2016, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.
  7. 7 Wise, B,S, St. John, J., and Lenanton, R 2007. Spatial scales of exploitation among populations of demersal scalefish: Implications for management. Part 1: Stock status of the key indicator species for the demersal scalefish fishery in the West Coast Bioregion. Report to the FRDC on Project No. 2003/052. Fisheries Research Report No 163. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia, 130 pp.
  8. 8 Department of Fisheries 2015, Harvest Strategy Policy and Operational Guidelines for the Aquatic Resources of Western Australia, Fisheries Management Paper No. 271, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  9. 9 Department of Fisheries 2014a, Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery Harvest Strategy 2014–2019, Fisheries Management Paper No. 267, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  10. 10 Fletcher, WJ (ed) 2016, State of the fisheries and aquatic resources report 2015/16, Western Australian Department of Fisheries, Perth.
  11. 11 Caputi, N 1993, Aspects of spawner-recruit relationships, with particular reference to crustacean stocks: a review, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 44: 589–607.
  12. 12 Caputi, N, Penn, JW, Joll, LM and Chubb, CF 1998, Stock–recruitment–environment relationships for invertebrate species of Western Australia, in GS Jamieson and A Campbell (eds), Proceedings of the North Pacific Symposium on Invertebrate Stock Assessment and Management, Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 125: 247–255.
  13. 13 Penn, JW, Caputi, N and Hall, NG 1995, Stock–recruitment relationships for the tiger prawn (Penaeus esculentus) stocks in Western Australia, ICES Marine Science Symposium, 199: 320–333.
  14. 14 Caputi, N, de Lestang, S,Hart, A, Kangas, M, Johnston, D and Penn, J 2014, Catch Predictions in Stock Assessment and Management of Invertebrate Fisheries Using Pre-Recruit Abundance—Case Studies from Western Australia, Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture, 22:1, 36-54.
  15. 15 Department of Fisheries 2014b, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery Harvest Strategy 2014–2019. Fisheries Management Paper No. 265. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  16. 16 Caputi, N., M. Kangas, Y. Hetzel, A. Denham, A. Pearce and A. Chandrapavan 2016, Management adaptation of invertebrate fisheries to an extreme marine heat wave event at a global warming hotspot. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.2137
  17. 17 Caputi, N, Feng, M, Pearce, A, Benthuysen, J, Denham, A, Hetzel, Y, Matear, R, Jackson, G, Molony, B, Joll, L and Chandrapavan, A 2014, Management implications of climate change effect on fisheries in Western Australia: part 1, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2010/535, Fisheries research report, Western Australian Department of Fisheries.
  18. 18 Wang, N, 2015, Application of a weekly delay-difference model to commercial catch and effort data in multi-species fisheries, PhD Thesis, University of Queensland and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  19. 19 Courtney, AJ, Kienzle, M, Pascoe, S, O’Neill, MF, Leigh, GM, Wang, Y-G, Innes, J, Landers, M, Braccini, JM, Prosser, AJ, Baxter, P, Sterling, DJ and Larkin J 2012, Harvest strategy evaluations and co-management for the Moreton Bay Trawl Fishery, 2012, Australian Seafood CRC final report, project 2009/774, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
  20. 20 Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2016, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop, 14-15 June 2016, Queensland Department of Agriculture, and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  21. 21 Pitcher, CR, Doherty, P, Arnold, P, Hooper, J, Gribble, N, Bartlett, C, Browne, M, Campbell, N, Cannard, T, Cappo, M, Carini, G, Chalmers, S, Cheers, S, Chetwynd, D, Colefax, A, Coles, R, Cook, S, Davie, P, De’ath, G, Devereux, D, Done, B, Donovan, T, Ehrke, B, Ellis, N, Ericson, G, Fellegara, I, Forcey, K, Furey, M, Gledhill, D, Good, N, Gordon, S, Haywood, M, Jacobsen, I, Johnson, J, Jones, M, Kinninmoth, S, Kistle, S, Last, P, Leite, A, Marks, S, McLeod, I, Oczkowicz, S, Rose, C, Seabright, D, Sheils, J, Sherlock, M, Skelton, P, Smith, D, Smith, G, Speare, P, Stowar, M, Strickland, C, Sutcliffe, P, Van der Geest, C, Venables, W, Walsh, C, Wassenberg, T, Welna, A and Yearsley, G 2007, Seabed biodiversity on the continental shelf of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, Queensland Museum, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and CRC Reef Research Centre, task final report, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.
  22. 22 Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2004, Review of the sustainability of fishing effort in the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery, B. Kerrigan, S. Gaddes and W. Norris (eds), Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane, September 2004.
  23. 23 Fisheries Economics, Research Management Pty. Ltd, 2007, A Review of the Business Exit (Licence Buy Out) Assistance Component of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package Final Report, Marine Division of the Department of Environment and Water Resources, October 2007.
  24. 24 Gunn, J, Fraser, G, Kimball, B, 2010, Review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package Report, Australian Department of the Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts.
  25. 25 Wang, N, Wang, Y-G, Courtney, AJ, and O’Neill, M F, 2015, Deriving optimal fishing effort for managing Australia’s Moreton Bay multispecies trawl fishery with aggregated effort data. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 72, 1278–1284.
  26. 26 Pears, RJ, Morison, AK, Jebreen, EJ, Dunning, MC, Pitcher, CR, Courtney, AJ, Houlden, B and Jacobsen, IP 2012, Ecological risk assessment of the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: technical report, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville.
  27. 27 Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, 2016 in review, An Ecological Risk Assessment of the East Coast Trawl Fishery in Southern Queensland Including the River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery, Queensland Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
  28. 28 Somers, IE 1987, Sediment type as a factor in the distribution of commercial prawn species in the Western Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 38: 133–149.
  29. 29 Yearsley, GK, Last, PR and Ward, RD 1999, Australian seafood handbook: domestic species, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart.
  30. 30 Huber, D 2003, Audit of the management of the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville.
  31. 31 Coles, R, Grech, A, Dew, K, Zeller, B and McKenzie, L, 2008, A preliminary report on the adequacy of protection provided to species and benthic habitats in the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery by the current system of closures, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  32. 32 Kangas, MI, Sporer, EC, Hesp, SA, Travaille, KL, Brand-Gardner, SJ, Cavalli, P and Harry, AV 2015, Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery, Western Australian Marine Stewardship Council Report Series 2: 294 pp. 
  33. 33 Kangas, M, McCrea, J, Fletcher, W, Sporer, E and Weir, V 2006a, Shark Bay Prawn Fishery, ESD report series 3, Western Australian Department of Fisheries, North Beach.
  34. 34 Kangas, MI, Sporer, EC, Hesp, SA, Travaille, KL, Moore, N., Cavalli P and Fisher, EA 2015, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Fishery, Western Australian Marine Stewardship Council Report Series 1: 296 pp.
  35. 35 Kangas, M, McCrea, J, Fletcher, W, Sporer, E and Weir, V 2006b, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Fishery, ESD report series 1, Western Australian Department of Fisheries, North Beach.
  36. 36 Kangas, M, Morrison, S, Unsworth, P, Lai, E, Wright, I and Thomson, A 2007, Development of biodiversity and habitat monitoring systems for key trawl fisheries in Western Australia, final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2002/038, Fisheries research report 160, Fisheries Western Australia, North Beach.
  37. 37 Kangas, M and Morrison, S 2013, Trawl impacts and biodiversity management in Shark Bay, Western Australia, Marine and Freshwater Research, 64: 1135–1155.
  38. 38 Dichmont, CM, Jarrett, A, Hill, F and Brown, M 2014, Harvest strategy for the Northern Prawn Fishery under input control, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  39. 39 Dayton, PK, Thrush, SF, Agardy, MT and Hofman, RJ 1995, Environmental effects of fishing, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 5: 205–232.
  40. 40 Australian Fisheries Management Authority 2012, Ecological risk management: report for the Northern Prawn Fishery Tiger and Banana Prawn sub-fisheries, report to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  41. 41 Raudzens, E 2007, At sea testing of the popeye fishbox bycatch reduction device onboard the FV Adelaide Pearl for approval in Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  42. 42 Roy, D and Jebreen, E 2011, Extension of Fisheries Research and Development Corporation funded research results on improved bycatch reduction devices to the Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2008/101, FRDC, Canberra.
  43. 43 Brewer, DT, Heales, D, Milton, D, Dell, Q, Fry, G, Venables, W. and Jones, P 2006 The impact of turtle excluder devices and bycatch reduction devices on diverse tropical marine communities in Australia’s Northern Prawn Trawl Fishery. Fisheries Research, 81: 176-188.
  44. 44 Kangas, MI and Thomson, A 2004, Implementation and assessment of bycatch reduction devices in the Shark Bay and Exmouth Gulf trawl fisheries, final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2000/189, Western Australian Department of Fisheries, Perth. 
  45. 45 Lenanton, RC, Caputi, N, Kangas, MI and Craine, M 2009, The ongoing influence of the Leeuwin Current on economically important fish and invertebrates off temperate Western Australia—has it changed?, Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 92: 111–127.
  46. 46 Loneragan, NR, Kangas, M, Haywood, MDE, Kenyon, RA, Caputi, N and Sporer, E 2013, Impact of cyclones and aquatic macrophytes on recruitment and landings of tiger prawns Penaeus esculentus in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 127: 46–58.

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