Eastern School Prawn (2020)

Metapenaeus macleayi

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

Date Published: June 2021

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

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

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria Sustainable

Catch, CPUE

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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 evidence for some minor genetic differentiation of Eastern School Prawn in the Tweed River and Noosa River from Eastern School Prawn in other estuaries, but estuaries within New South Wales appear to be generally 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.

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Stock Status


Eastern School Prawn is caught primarily as part of the commercial Inshore Trawl Fishery, mainly off the Gippsland coast of eastern Victoria. The Eastern School Prawn fishery is seasonal with effort concentrated in the warmer months. This status report is focused on the Inshore Trawl Fishery, which represents 97 per cent of the total catch since 2000. The remaining catch was from the Gippsland Lakes Fishery (GLF), which closed at the end of March 2020 following a buy-out of all commercial netting licences, implemented to improve recreational fishing access by hook and line methods. Recreational catch is unknown.

Catch has generally increased since the early 2000s. A substantial increase in catch occurred between 2013 and 2016. Average annual catch since 2000/01 was 28.8 t.  Although CPUE has undergone several large fluctuations every 3–5 years since 2000–01, this performance measure has generally shown an increasing trend, and has remained above the long-term average of 7.31 kg/shot since 2010.  Declines in CPUE and catch may be due to periods where drifting seaweed obstructed nets.

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


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Eastern School Prawn biology [Rowling et al. 2010]

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
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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Eastern School Prawn

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Fishing methods
Dip Net
Haul Seine
Management methods
Method Victoria
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Customary fishing permits
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Recreational fishing licence
Spatial closures
Commercial 35.25t
Indigenous Unknown (No catch under permit)
Recreational Unknown

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

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) see https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/aboriginal-fishing.

New South Wales – Recreational (Catch) Murphy et al. [2020].

Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods) A person who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is exempt from the need to obtain a Victorian recreational fishing licence, provided they comply with all other rules that apply to recreational fishers, including rules on equipment, catch limits, size limits and restricted areas. Traditional (non-commercial) fishing activities that are carried out by members of a traditional owner group entity under an agreement pursuant to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 are also exempt from the need to hold a recreational fishing licence, subject to any conditions outlined in the agreement. Native title holders are also exempt from the need to obtain a recreational fishing licence under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993.

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Catch Chart

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

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  1. Ives, MC, Scandol, JP, Montgomery, SS, Suthers, IM, 2009, Modelling the possible effects of climate change on an Australian multi-fleet prawn fishery, Marine and Freshwater Research, 60: 1211-1222
  2. Mulley, J, Latter, B, 1981, Geographic differentiation of eastern Australian penaeid prawn populations, Marine and Freshwater Research, 32: 889–895.
  3. Murphy, JJ, Ochwada-Doyle, FA, West, LD, Stark, KE, Hughes, JM, 2020. The NSW Recreational Fisheries Monitoring Program - survey of recreational fishing, 2017/18. NSW DPI - Fisheries Final Report Series No. 158
  4. Pinto, U, 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.
  5. QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
  6. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, 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.
  7. Racek, AA, 1959, Prawn investigations in eastern Australia, State Fisheries Research Bulletin, 6: 1–57.
  8. Rowling, K, Hegarty, A and Ives, M, 2010, Status of fisheries resources in NSW 2008–09, New South Wales Industry and Investment, Cronulla.
  9. Ruello, NV, 1973, Influence of rainfall on distribution and abundance of school prawn Metapenaeus macleayi in Hunter River Region (Australia), Marine Biology, 23: 221–228.
  10. simpleSA: A package containing functions to facilitate relatively simple stock assessments. R package version 0.1.18.
  11. Taylor, M.D. 2020 Status of Australian Fish Stocks 2020—NSW Stock Status Summary—Eastern School Prawn (Metapenaeus macleayi).

Downloadable reports

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