Metapenaeus endeavouri, Metapenaeus ensis

  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • James Larcombe (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Mervi Kangas (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Australia’s stocks of Endeavour Prawns are sustainable in the main commercial fisheries in WA, the Northern Prawn Fishery, and Qld. They are undefined in areas with smaller catches, where less information is available.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Red and Blue Endeavour Prawn) ECOTF Sustainable Catch rate, catch, effort
East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (QLD)
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Stock Structure

Endeavour Prawns includes two species, Blue Endeavour Prawn Metapenaeus endeavouri, and Red Endeavour Prawn M. ensis that are generally not distinguished in fisheries. Although the two species are caught in differing proportions in different regions.

Endeavour Prawn fisheries are located in Shark Bay, Exmouth Gulf, the north coast of Western Australia, the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Torres Strait and the east coast of Queensland. Little is known about the biological stock structure of the populations of Blue and Red Endeavour Prawns that make up these fisheries. The majority of catch reported in this chapter is Blue Endeavour Prawn. Red Endeavour Prawn represents less than 20 per cent of the catch in the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery [Turnbull and Atfield 2007]) and between 20–40 per cent in the Northern Prawn Fishery.

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Northern Prawn Fishery (Blue Endeavour Prawn), Northern Prawn Fishery (Red Endeavour Prawn), Torres Strait Prawn Fishery (Blue Endeavour Prawn) (Commonwealth); Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (Blue Endeavour Prawn), North Coast Prawn Managed Fishery (Blue Endeavour Prawn), Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (Blue Endeavour Prawn) (Western Australia); and East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Red and Blue Endeavour Prawn) (Queensland).

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Stock Status

East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Red and Blue Endeavour Prawn)

From 1998 to 2015, there has been a general upward trend in the nominal catch rate [Wang et al. 2015] for Endeavour Prawns (species combined, as they are not differentiated in commercial logbooks). The harvest ratio between Blue and Red Endeavour Prawns has been reasonably stable at approximately 80:20. The overall catch rate was close to historical low levels in 2017 however this has fluctuated since 2005 with no overall trend evident [QDAF 2018]. Effort in this fishery stabilized in 2007, following management changes, marine park closures and the rising operational costs. The average annual catch rate for the past five years (2012–17) was 59 kg per day, which is 13 per cent higher than the long-term average (1990–2015). Current harvest levels are significantly lower than 2001 levels when an assessment concluded that Endeavour Prawns were fully exploited [Turnbull and Gribble 2004] although catches have been reasonably stable over the last ten years (2008–17). The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

The average annual commercial harvest of Endeavour Prawns in the past five years (2012–17) was 489 t, which is roughly half of the long-term average of 959 t for the period from 1990–2017. The fishing effort associated with 2017 catch (9 943 days) was only 51 per cent of the long-term average of 20 329 fishing days. Current effort levels are below both effort at maximum sustainable yield (EMSY) and effort at maximum economic yield (EMEY) predictions for both the northern (above latitude 16°S) and southern (latitude 16–22°S) parts of the fishery area [QDAF 2018]. This level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.

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

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Red and Blue Endeavour Prawn biology [Courtney et al. 1989, Kailola et al. 1993, Keating et al. 1990, Kangas et al. 2015, Somers et al. 1987, Yearsley et al. 1999]
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
ENDEAVOUR PRAWNS 1–2 years, 200 mm TL  ~6 months Females 24–26 mm CL Males ~18 mm CL
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Red and Blue Endeavour Prawns
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Fishing methods
Otter Trawl
Cast Net
Management methods
Method Queensland
Possession limit
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Vessel restrictions
Possession limit
Commercial 399.79t in ECOTF
Indigenous Negligible
Recreational Negligible
East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (QLD)

Commonwealth – Indigenous (management methods) The Commonwealth Government does not manage non-commercial Indigenous fishing (with the exception of the Torres Strait). In general, non-commercial Indigenous fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the states 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), 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.

Queensland – Commercial (fishing methods) Recreational fishers are permitted to catch Endeavour Prawn, but are unlikely to catch them in large amounts due to the distribution of this species group.

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers 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. Full exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits.

Commonwealth – Recreational (fishing methods) The Commonwealth Government does not manage recreational fishing. Recreational fishing in Commonwealth waters is managed by the states or territory immediately adjacent to those waters, under their management regulations.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Red and Blue Endeavour Prawns - note confidential catch not shown
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  1. 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.
  2. Courtney, A, Dredge, M, and Masel, J 1989, Reproductive Biology and Spawning Periodicity of Endeavour Shrimps Metapenaeus endeavouri (Schmitt, 1926) and Metapenaeus ensis (de Haan, 1850) from a Central Queensland (Australia) Fishery, Asian Fisheries Science, 3: 133–147.
  3. DPIRD 2018, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery harvest strategy 2014–2019.
  4. Gaughan D and Santoro K (eds) 2018, State of the fisheries and aquatic resources report 2016/17, Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Perth.
  5. Kailola, PJ, Williams, MJ, Stewart, PC, Reichelt, RE, McNee, A and Grieve, C 1993, Australian Fisheries Resources, Bureau of Rural Resources and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Canberra.
  6. Kangas, MI, Sporer, EC, Hesp, SA, Travaille, KL, Moore, N, Cavalli, P and Fisher, EA 2015, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery, Western Australian Marine Stewardship Council Report Series, 1: 273 pp.
  7. Keating, J, Watson, R, and Sterling, D 1990, Reproductive biology of Penaeus esculentus (Haswell, 1879) and Metapenaeus endeavouri (Schmitt, 1926) in Torres Strait, in Mellors, J (ed.), in Torres Strait prawn project: a review of research 1986–1988, Queensland Department of Primary Industries Information Series, Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Brisbane.
  8. Larcombe, J, Marton, N and Curtotti, R, 2018, Northern Prawn Fishery, in H Patterson, J Larcombe, S Nicol and R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2018, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.
  9. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19-20 June 2018, Brisbane.
  10. Somers, I, Poiner, I and Harris, A 1987, A study of the species composition and distribution of commercial penaeid prawns in Torres Strait, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 38: 47–61.
  11. Turnbull, C and Cocking, L 2018, Torres Strait Prawn Fishery Data Summary 2017, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra, Australia.
  12. Turnbull, C and Gribble, N 2004, Assessment of the northern Queensland Tiger and Endeavour prawn stocks: 2004 update, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  13. Turnbull, CT and Atfield, JC 2007, Fisheries Long Term Monitoring Program—Summary of tiger and endeavour prawn survey results: 1998–2006, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane, Australia
  14. Venables, W and Dichmont, C 2004, GLMs, GAMs and GLMMs: an overview of theory for applications in fisheries research, Fisheries Research, 70: 319–337.
  15. Wang, N, Wang, Y-G, Courtney, AJ and O’Neill, M 2015, Application of a weekly delay-difference model to commercial catch and effort data for tiger prawns in the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery, PhD Thesis, University of Queensland and Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
  16. Yearsley, G, Last, P and Ward, R 1999, Australian seafood handbook: domestic species, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart.

Downloadable reports

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