Western King Prawn (2020)
Date Published: June 2021
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Western King Prawn is harvested in WA, SA and QLD. Stocks in all states are sustainable, except for the South Australian West Coast Prawn Fishery, which is depleting.
Stock Status Overview
|Queensland||East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery||Sustainable||
Catch, effort, ecological risk assessment
Western King Prawn is distributed throughout the Indo–West Pacific [Grey et al. 1983]. No research has been conducted into Western King Prawn biological stock structure in Western Australia or Queensland, and status in those states is therefore reported at the management unit level. In South Australia, one study of the genetic structure of Western King Prawn found no differences between the three fisheries [Carrick 2003], however, each fishery functions as an independent population at time scales relevant to management, with distinct adult and juvenile habitats and independent variations in recruitment and abundance. Each fishery in South Australia is therefore assessed and managed as a separate management unit.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery, North Coast Prawn Managed Fisheries, Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery, South West Trawl Managed Fishery (Western Australia); East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland); Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery, Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, and West Coast Prawn Fishery (South Australia).
East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery
Long-term (1998–2017) nominal catch rates for Western King Prawns range from 31.0–58.3 kg per day. At 45.9 kg per day, nominal catch rates for 2019 were at the upper end of this range [QFISH 2020]. In 2013, an ecological risk assessment (ERA) for the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland) found that Western King Prawns were at low risk of becoming recruitment overfished within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) [Pears et al. 2012]. This is in part driven by the biology of the species, which exhibits protracted spawning behaviour, and partly by low levels of susceptibility to trawling, given the extent of area closed to the fishery. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this management unit is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.
Total catch of Western King Prawns and effort (days fished) in 2019 were similar to 2013 when catches were below historical averages [QFISH 2020]. It is unlikely that the risk of this species being recruitment overfished has increased from the original ‘low risk’ evaluation. This is supported by research which has shown that around 40 per cent of the Western King Prawn biomass is afforded protection from trawl fishing through permanent closures within the GBRMP [Pitcher et al. 2007]. These closures remain in place and provisions governing the use of these areas have not been the subject of significant amendments since the last Status of Australian Fish Stocks assessment. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, the East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.
Western King Prawn biology [Kangas et al. 2015 a,b, Penn 1980, Noell and Hooper 2019]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Western King Prawn||2–3 years, maximum 4 years South Australia: males 46 mm CL, females 57 mm CL Western Australia: males 45 mm CL, females 60 mm CL||6–7 months, 25 mm CL|
Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing
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