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BANANA PRAWNS (2018)

Penaeus indicus & Penaeus merguiensis

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

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Summary

Banana prawns are found across northern Australia, from WA to QLD. They are sustainable across all jurisdictions. Harvests are highly dependent on seasonal conditions, which influence prawn populations from year to year.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
Western Australia Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery EGPMF Sustainable Catch
Western Australia Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery KPMF Sustainable Catch, catch projections
Western Australia Nickol Bay and Onslow Prawn Managed Fisheries NBPMF Sustainable Catch, catch projections, biomass dynamic model
EGPMF
Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)
KPMF
Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)
NBPMF
Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)
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Stock Structure

In Australia the standard fish name Banana Prawn is a group name which refers to Fenneropenaeus merguiensis and Fenneropenaeus indicus [Ferfante and Kensley 1997]. Both species have also been placed in the genus Penaeus with taxonomy still unsettled [Ma et al. 2011]. Here, only Fenneropenaeus merguiensis is considered, and referred to as Banana Prawn. The biological stock structure of Banana Prawn is uncertain. There is some evidence that there may be separate biological stocks of Banana Prawn within the Northern Prawn Fishery (Commonwealth); however, the boundaries of the biological stocks are unknown [Yearsley et al. 1999]. Stocks in Western Australia and Queensland are widely separated, but it is not known whether these are completely independent stocks [Tanimoto et al. 2006].

Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the management unit level—Northern Prawn Fishery (Commonwealth); Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery, Nickol Bay and Onslow Prawn Managed Fisheries, Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia); and East Coast (Queensland).

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Stock Status

Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery

Banana Prawn landings are generally low (or zero) in this fishery, with historical landings (1963–2017) ranging from 0–74 t. Catches of banana prawns are related to the amount of rainfall in the region, with consecutive high rainfall years providing the optimal conditions for banana prawn recruitment. Fishers are active when abundance is higher and aggregations are evident. In recent times, banana prawn catches in the upper end of the historical landings range occurred in 2012 and 2013 which corresponded to relatively higher rainfall over the summer months these years. Less than 1 t of Banana Prawns were landed in 2017 [Gaughan and Santoro 2018]. Given the environmentally driven nature of Banana Prawn recruitment [Venables et al. 2011] and historical low landings for some years, the above evidence indicates that the biomass of the management unit is unlikely to be depleted and that 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 Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery

Historical commercial catch levels from 1989–98 have been used as the basis for calculating target catch ranges, which represent a management aim. The target range in the Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) is 200–450 t [Gaughan and Santoro 2018] although, due to much reduced effort in this fishery in recent years, this target range is under review. Annual commercial catch projections are expected to be taken within a specific fishing season which is based on January and February rainfall levels in Kalumburu and Derby [Gaughan and Santoro 2018]. The commercial catch projection for the 2017 fishing season was 210–315 t. Total commercial catch for 2017 was 260 t, within the target catch range and projected catch range for 2017. The management unit operates under an upper limit effort cap of 1 500 vessel days (based on historical effort levels) and 747 vessel days were fished in 2017.

On the basis of annual trends in landings and effort since 1980 and, more recently, catch rates, the Banana Prawn stock is currently considered to be fished at a sustainable level. There has been no marked declining trend in landings across the entire time series and landings have been maintained despite relatively low levels of effort compared with historical levels. Fishing effort (vessel days) in the past five years has been well below the levels that provided the highest catches in the history of the fishery. Fishing mortality is estimated to be low, with a preliminary biomass dynamics model indicating around 760 days of fishing are required to achieve maximum sustainable yield (MSY) under average environmental conditions. The model estimated that levels of spawning stock biomass have been maintained at more than 50 per cent of unfished biomass levels.

There has been a marked increase in annual mean catch rates since about 2005, following a marked reduction in the number of fishers harvesting the available stock. Fishers are currently aiming to optimise returns by maximising their efficiency, with the majority fishing only when catch rates are high. Permanent closures have been introduced in all the major rainfall catchments, as well as temporal closures in two of the catchment areas (known as ‘size management fish grounds’) to protect smaller prawns and their habitats.

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of the management unit is unlikely to be depleted and that 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 Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery (Western Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Nickol Bay and Onslow Prawn Managed Fisheries

Historical commercial catch levels from 1989–98 have been used as the basis for calculating target catch ranges, which represent a management indicator. The Banana Prawn target catch range for Nickol Bay is 40–220 t and for Onslow is 2–90 t [Gaughan and Santoro 2018]. Annual commercial catch projections, within which it is expected that catches should remain for the fishing season in Nickol Bay, are estimated based on wet-season rainfall (December–March). The commercial catch projection for the 2017 fishing season was 170–250 t. Total commercial catch for 2017 was 223 t, which was within the projected catch range and just above the target catch range. Seven boats fished the Nickol Bay fishery in 2017, with a total effort of 283 boat days. Only one boat fished the Onslow fishery with a total effort of five boat days, landing a low quantity of Banana Prawns whilst. Since 2012, very low effort has been expended in the Onslow fishery as a result of disruption to fishing activities and area access due to resource developments in the region with effort levels in the five years prior to 2012 being between 60 and 260 boat days.

On the basis of annual trends in landings and effort, and more recently from analysis of annual catch rates and the results of preliminary stock production models and a biomass dynamics model (unpublished, Western Australia Department of Fisheries), the Banana Prawn stock in Nickol Bay is currently considered to be fished at a sustainable level. There has been no marked declining trend in overall landings across the entire time series despite very marked reductions in effort in most recent years. The high wet-season rainfall and higher catch projection for 2017 saw an increase in fishing effort on the last two years but at levels still well below historical levels. There has also been no decline in peak catch rates in recent years in the two main fishing grounds and estimates from the biomass dynamics model indicate a declining trend in fishing mortality due to lower fishing effort. Estimates from the biomass dynamics model also indicate high levels of spawning biomass in recent years relative to the estimated unfished level.

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of the management unit is unlikely to be depleted and that 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 Nickol Bay and Onslow Prawn Managed Fisheries (Western Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Banana Prawn biology [Huber 2003, Tanimoto et al. 2006, Yearsley et al. 1999]

Biology
Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
BANANA PRAWNS 1–2 years; > 240 mm TL  ~6 months; 120–150 mm CL 
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of BANANA PRAWNS
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Tables

Fishing methods
Western Australia
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Recreational
Cast Net
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Commercial
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Temporal closures
Recreational
Bag limits
Licence
Active vessels
Western Australia
<3 in EGPMF, 11 in KPMF, 7 in NBPMF
EGPMF
Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)
KPMF
Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)
NBPMF
Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)
Catch
Western Australia
Commercial 260.04t in KPMF, 222.54t in NBPMF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown
KPMF
Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)
NBPMF
Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (WA)

Commonwealth – Recreational and Indigenous Subject to the defence that applies under Section 211 of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth), and the exemption from a requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence, the non-commercial take by indigenous fishers is covered by the same arrangements as that for recreational fishing. 

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.

Queensland – Indigenous 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 BANANA PRAWNS - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. 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.
  2. Gaughan, DJ and Santoro, K (eds) 2018, State of the fisheries and aquatic resources report 2016/17, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia.
  3. 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,
  4. Jacobsen, I, Zeller, B, Dunning, M, Garland, A, Courtney, T, Jebreen, E 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 and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  5. 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.
  6. Ma, KY, Chan, T-Y and Chu, KH 2011, Refuting the six-genus classification of Penaeus s.l. (Dendrobranchiata, Penaeidae): a combined analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear genes. Zoologica Scripta, 40: 498–508.
  7. O’Neill, MF and Leigh, GM 2007, Fishing power increases continue in Queensland’s East Coast Trawl Fishery, Australia, Fisheries Research, 85: 84–92.
  8. 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.
  9. Perez Farfante, I and Kensley, BF 1997, Penaeids and Sergestoid Shrimps and Prawns of the World: Keys and Diagnoses for the Families and Genera. Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, 233 p.
  10. Tanimoto, M, Courtney, AJ, O’Neil, MF and Leigh, GM 2006, Stock assessment of the Queensland (Australia) east coast banana prawn (Penaeus merguiensis), Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Brisbane.
  11. Venables, WN, Hutton, T, Lawrence, E, Rothlisberg, P, Buckworth, R, Hartcher, M and Kenyon, R 2011, Prediction of common banana prawn potential catch in Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Canberra.
  12. Yearsley, GK, Last, PR and Ward, RD 1999, Australian seafood handbook: domestic species, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart.
  13. Zhou, S, Dichmont, CM, Burridge, CY, Venables, WV, Toscas, PJ and Vance, D 2007, Is catchability density-dependent for schooling prawns, Fisheries Research, 85: 23–36.

Downloadable reports

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