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TIGER PRAWNS (2020)

Penaeus esculentus, Penaeus semisulcatus

  • Butler, Ian (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science)
  • Butler, Ian (Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)
  • Mervi Kangas (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)
  • Anthony Roelofs (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Matthew D. Taylor (Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales)
  • Brad Zeller (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)

Date Published: June 2021

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Summary

Tiger Prawn stocks in the Commonwealth, NT, WA and QLD are sustainable. There is one negligible stock in NSW. 

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (Brown Tiger Prawn) Sustainable

Biomass and recruitment surveys, catch, CPUE

Western Australia North Coast Prawn Managed Fisheries (Brown Tiger Prawn) Sustainable

Catch, effort

Western Australia Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (Brown Tiger Prawn) Sustainable

Biomass and recruitment surveys, catch, CPUE

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Stock Structure

The standard name ‘Tiger Prawn’ refers to the species Penaeus esculentus, Penaeus semisulcatus and Penaeus  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 Australia [Ward et al. 2006]. 

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

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Stock Status

Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (Brown Tiger Prawn)

Stock assessments for this management unit are undertaken using similar methods to those used in the Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia). The management objective is to maintain the spawning biomass (using catch rate as a proxy for biomass) above the historically determined biological reference points [Penn et al. 1995] with a target of 25 kg per hour and a limit of 10 kg per hour in the spawning stock surveys [DoF 2018]. Daily monitoring of catch rates ensures cessation of fishing when catch rates drop below the target level within the key spawning area or in early August, whichever comes first. Three standardised Brown Tiger Prawn spawning stock surveys were carried out from August–October 2019, achieving an average catch rate of 42.7 kg per hour, well above the target level. The fishery has recovered from the effects of the 2010–11 marine heatwave [Caputi et al. 2014a, 2016] that may have affected survival of recruits in the inshore nursery habitat in the years after the heatwave. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. 

Standardised commercial catch per unit effort (CPUE) data are used as an additional indicator of abundance to monitor changes in stock levels from year-to-year. The commercial catches and catch rates are compared with 10-year (1989–98) reference points [Gaughan and Santoro 2018]. The 10-year reference point sets an annual target catch range of 250–550 t and the revised 2019 Brown Tiger Prawn catch prediction (based on the recruitment surveys) was 370–550 t. The total 2019 catch of 418 t was within both the target catch and catch prediction ranges [Caputi et al. 2014b, Gaughan and Santoro 2020]. The level of fishing effort has reduced from historical levels of 35 000–50 000 hours (standardised to twin gear) to 24 599 trawl hours in 2019. The total number of vessels has also reduced significantly over time from 23 to six larger vessels operating with quad trawl gear. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock within the management unit to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the stock within the Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) Brown Tiger Prawn management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

North Coast Prawn Managed Fisheries (Brown Tiger Prawn)

Small quantities of Brown Tiger Prawns have been landed from the North Coast prawn fisheries in recent years, with Brown Tiger Prawn only being a key target species in the Onslow Prawn Managed Fishery. These fisheries use annual catch with reference to a target catch range as an indicator of acceptable performance and for evaluating whether the stock is subjected to overfishing. Where the annual catch falls outside of the range this needs to be adequately explained or additional investigations undertaken. In 2019, all the North Coast Prawn Managed Fisheries combined landed 34 t of Brown Tiger Prawn [Gaughan and Santoro 2020] reflecting an increase in landings in Nickol Bay. The fishing effort in the Kimberley and Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fisheries is primarily directed at White Banana Prawns and the overall annual mean fleet effort in the Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fishery was higher in 2019 due to a higher abundance of White Banana Prawns which in turn resulted in an increased level of effort on Brown Tiger Prawn. The overall annual mean fleet effort in the Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fishery has reduced since 2007 with 700 boat days fished between 1990 and 2005 and in 2019 it was 353 boat days. In the Kimberley, the number of operators actively fishing each year has declined from around 20–50 boats (in excess of 1 000 boat days) in the 1990s and early 2000s to less than 15 since 2009 (less than 500 boat days). Only one boat operated for 28 nights in total in the Onslow Prawn Managed Fishery in 2019. The above evidence indicates the biomass of this management unit is unlikely to be depleted and recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the management unit to become recruitment impaired. 

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the North Coast Prawn Managed Fisheries (Western Australia) Brown Tiger Prawn management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (Brown Tiger Prawn)

The status of Brown Tiger Prawn stocks is assessed annually using fishery-independent spawning and recruitment surveys and a weight-of-evidence approach that considers a range of relevant information [Wise et al. 2007]. The assessment approach is primarily based on separate monitoring of fishery-independent indices (survey catch rates) of recruitment and spawning stock levels relative to specified reference points [DoF 2014, 2015]. Surveys provide an index of annual recruitment that is used for predicting annual Brown Tiger Prawn catches. Other information collected throughout the season (for example, commercial catches, effort and environmental data) are also evaluated to provide insight into, for example, operational factors that might affect fishery performance, or spawning stock and environmental factors affecting prawn recruitment. 

Standardised commercial CPUE data are used as an additional indicator of abundance, to monitor changes in stock levels from year-to-year. The annual commercial catches and catch rates are compared with 10-year (1989–98) average catch and catch rate reference points [Gaughan and Santoro 2020]. 

A spawning stock–recruitment relationship is evident for Brown Tiger Prawns [Caputi, 1993, Penn et al. 1995, Caputi et al. 1998] and therefore the maintenance of adequate spawning stock (using a target catch rate) to ensure adequate recruitment is the key management objective [Gaughan and Santoro 2020]. Brown Tiger Prawns are managed to achieve target reference catch rate levels through control rules [DoF 2014, 2015] that trigger a management response in the form of either a review of season/management arrangements if catch rates are at, or below, a threshold reference level, or changes to management arrangements if catch rates are at, or below, the limit reference level. A mandatory closure of the Brown Tiger Prawn northern spawning area is also enforced from June onwards to protect the spawning stock. Once fishing ceases, fishery-independent surveys are conducted to verify catch rates in the closed northern and southern (open) spawning areas. 

The June 2019 northern spawning area stock survey showed a mean standardised catch rate of 32.3 kg per hour, which was above the target level of 25 kg per hour [DoF 2014]. A second survey in July at the start of the main spawning season provided a catch rate of 17.4 kg per hour, below the target level, with the overall index for the two time periods at the target level of 25 kg per hour. This standardised catch rate indicates that the biomass within this management unit is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. 

The 10-year reference point sets an annual target catch range for the fishery of 400–700 t. For 2019, the Brown Tiger Prawn catch prediction (based on the recruitment surveys) was 315–475 t and the season catch achieved (395 t) was just below the target catch range however within the 2019 predicted catch range [Gaughan and Santoro 2020, Caputi et al. 2014b]. The level of fishing effort since 2007 has remained between 33 000 and 41 000 trawl hours (standardised to twin nets) with fishing effort in 2019 being 34 485 trawl hours. The combined evidence above indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock within the management unit to become recruitment impaired. 

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the stock within the Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) Brown Tiger Prawn management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Brown and Grooved Tiger Prawn biology [Somers 1987, Yearsley et al. 1999, Kangas et al. 2015 a,b]

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

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Tiger Prawns
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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Indigenous
Unspecified
Recreational
Unspecified
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Effort limits
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 815.29t
Indigenous No Catch
Recreational No Catch

Commonwealth – Recreational 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.

Commonwealth – Indigenous 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.

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Tiger Prawns - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Parsa, M, Larcombe, J, Butler, I, and Curtotti, R, 2020, Northern Prawn Fishery, in H Patterson, J Larcombe, J Woodhams and R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2020, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.
  2. Butler, I, and Steven, A, 2020, Torres Strait Prawn Fishery, in H Patterson, J Larcombe, J Woodhams and R Curtotti (eds), Fishery status reports 2020, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, Canberra.
  3. 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.
  4. Caputi, N, de Lestang, S,Hart, A, Kangas, M, Johnston, D and Penn, J 2014b, 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.
  5. Caputi, N, Feng, M, Pearce, A, Benthuysen, J, Denham, A, Hetzel, Y, Matear, R, Jackson, G, Molony, B, Joll, L and Chandrapavan, A 2014a, 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.
  6. Caputi, N, Kangas, M, Hetzel, Y, Denham, A, Pearce, A and Chandrapavan, A 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
  7. 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.
  8. Deng, RA, Hutton, T, Punt, A, Upston, J, Miller, M, Moeseneder, C and Pascoe, S 2018, Status of the Northern Prawn Fishery tiger prawn fishery at the end of 2017 with an estimated TAE for 2018 and 2019, report to AFMA, CSIRO, Brisbane.
  9. Department of Fisheries 2014, Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery Harvest Strategy 2014–2019, Fisheries Management Paper No. 267, Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  10. 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.
  11. Department of Fisheries 2018, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery Harvest Strategy 2014 – 2019 Version 1.1. Fisheries Management Paper No. 265. Department of Fisheries, Western Australia.
  12. Gaughan D, Santoro K (eds.) 2020, State of the fisheries and aquatic resources report 2018/19, Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Perth.
  13. Hutton, T, 2019, Milestone progress report NPF RAG assessments 2018–2021, report to AFMA, CSIRO, Brisbane.
  14. Jacobsen, I, Zeller, B, Dunning, M, Garland, A, Courtney T, & Jebreen, E, An Ecological Risk Assessment of the Southern Queensland East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery and River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery, Fisheries Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  15. Kangas, MI, Sporer, EC, Hesp, SA, Travaille, KL, Brand-Gardner, SJ, Cavalli, P and Harry, AV 2015b, Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery, Western Australian Marine Stewardship Council Report Series 2: 294 pp.
  16. Kangas, MI, Sporer, EC, Hesp, SA, Travaille, KL, Moore, N, Cavalli, P and Fisher, EA 2015a, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery, Western Australian Marine Stewardship Council Report Series 1: 273 pp.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Punt, AE , Deng, R, Pascoe, S, Dichmont, CM, Zhou, S, Plagányi, ÉE, Hutton, T, Venables, WN, Kenyon, R & van der Velde, T 2011, ‘Calculating optimal effort and catch trajectories for multiple species modelled using a mix of size-structured, delay-difference and biomass dynamics models’, Fisheries Research vol. 109, pp. 201–11
  21. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
  22. 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.
  23. Taylor, S, Turnbull, C, Marrington, J and George, M (eds) 2007, Torres Strait prawn handbook 2007, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  24. Turnbull, C 2019, Updated tiger prawn stock assessment for the Torres Strait prawn fishery: a final report to AFMA for the TSPMAC and TSSAC, project 180802, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  25. Turnbull, C and Cocking, L 2019, Torres Strait Prawn Fishery Data Summary 2019, Australian Fisheries Management Authority. Canberra, Australia.
  26. Turnbull, C, Tanimoto, M, O’Neill, MF, Campbell, A and Fairweather, CL 2009, Torres Strait spatial management research project 2007–09, final report for DAFF consultancy DAFF83/06, Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, Brisbane.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Wise, BS, 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.
  30. Yearsley, GK, Last, PR and Ward, RD 1999, Australian seafood handbook: domestic species, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart.

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