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Western King Prawn (2018)

Melicertus latisulcatus

  • Craig Noell (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Crystal Beckmann (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Lachlan McLeay (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Luke Albury (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • Mervi Kangas (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia)

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Summary

Western King Prawn is harvested in WA, SA and QLD. Stocks in all states are sustainable.

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Fisheries Stock status Indicators
South Australia Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery GSVPF Sustainable Survey and commercial catch rates, recruitment
South Australia Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery SGPF Sustainable Survey catch rates, catch
South Australia West Coast Prawn Fishery WCPF Sustainable Survey catch rates, catch
GSVPF
Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery (SA)
SGPF
Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery (SA)
WCPF
West Coast Prawn Fishery (SA)
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Stock Structure

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—Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery, North Coast Prawn Managed Fisheries, South West Trawl Managed Fishery (Western Australia); East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (Queensland); Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery and West Coast Prawn Fishery (South Australia).

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Stock Status

Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery

Management arrangements for the Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery have evolved since the fishery’s inception in 1967 and the fishery has gone through a number of cycles characterised by increasing catches, subsequent declines in recruitment and fishery performance, and resulting closure periods (1991–92 to 1992–93 and 2012–13 to 2013–14). The latest management plan for the fishery was implemented in April 2017 and provides the decision rules for classifying stock status relative to limit, trigger and target reference points defined for three performance indicators relating to relative stock biomass and recruitment [PIRSA 2017]. The performance indicators are: 1) standardised annual commercial catch per unit effort (CPU E); 2) standardised fishery-independent survey (FIS) CPUE; and 3) the Fisheries Recruitment Index (FRI). These are the primary indicators for biomass and fishing mortality. A weight of evidence approach is used to assess the stock status.

The most recent stock assessment report was completed in 2017 [McLeay et al. 2017] and used data to the end of the 2016–17 season (1 November 2016–31 July 2017). In 2016–17, the total commercial catch of Western King Prawn in the GSVPF was 224.6 t obtained from 287 vessel-nights that comprised 96 per cent of the Total Allowable Commercial Effort of 300 vessel-nights.

Standardised annual commercial CPUE was 892 kg per block per vessel-night, which was similar to that recorded in 2014–15 when the fishery reopened (890 kg per block per vessel-night) and within the target range defined for this performance indicator (≥ 750 to < 900 kg per block per vessel-night). Estimates of standardised FIS CPUE have remained within the high range defined for this performance indicator (≥ 30 kg per trawl-shot) in the last four surveys and, in 2016–17, standardised FIS CPUE was 32.7 kg per trawl-shot. Estimates of FRI have remained within the high range defined for this performance indicator (≥ 600 recruits/h) in the last two surveys and, in 2016–17, the FRI was 784.4 recruits/h. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, 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 Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery (South Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery

While time series and spatial distribution of commercial catches are presented by calendar year, the stock status for South Australia’s Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery and Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery management units refer to the 2016–17 financial year as it more closely aligns with the fishing seasons for those fisheries (October–June or September).

The primary indicator for biomass and fishing mortality in Spencer Gulf is the weighted average catch rate of adult prawns (defined as 20 or fewer prawns per pound), obtained during fishery-independent surveys conducted yearly in November, February and April [PIRSA 2014]. This index of relative biomass is evaluated against limit and trigger reference points of 48 and 68 kg per hour, respectively, where the trigger reference point is considered to be the minimum catch rate at which future recruitment to the fishery will be adequate (that is, the level that delineates a stock status classification of ‘sustainable’ from ‘depleting’).

The most recent stock assessment [Noell and Hooper 2017] concluded that the fishery was sustainable in 2014–15 and 2015–16. In 2016–17, the weighted average catch rate was 107 kg per hour for adult prawns which was above the trigger reference point. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired.

Fishery-independent surveys and fishery-dependent data have demonstrated a long history of stable recruitment (above the limit reference point of 1 225 recruits per nautical mile trawled) and commercial catch (generally between 1 600 and 2 400 t, Noell and Hooper 2017). 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 Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery (South Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

West Coast Prawn Fishery

The West Coast Prawn Fishery (South Australia) harvests from an oceanic stock that shows large fluctuations in recruitment, thought to be environmentally-driven [Carrick and Ostendorf, 2005, Carrick, 2008], and consequently has experienced large fluctuations in commercial catch. The Management Policy for the West Coast Prawn Fishery does not contain any defined reference levels of performance indicators [PIRSA 2010]. Proxies for biomass and fishing mortality for the West Coast biological stock are the total commercial catch and the annual average catch rate from fishery-independent surveys (conducted annually in March, June and November). Historical catch rate trends from fishery-independent surveys are considered to be a reliable proxy for biomass and fishing mortality because (1) the fishery-independent sampling design has remained relatively consistent since inception in 2002 and (2) there is contrast in the data as they span the most recent low catch period from 2002 to 2007 and the more recent, relatively higher level.

The most recent stock assessment [Beckmann and Hooper unpublished] reported a total catch of 162 tonnes (t) during the 2017 season (calendar year), and this was above the 10 year mean (144 ± 12 t). The mean survey catch rate in 2017 was 53 ± 5 kg per hour; this was the lowest observed since 2012 but substantially higher than the low levels observed during 2002–06 (range: 13–29 kg per hour). The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Furthermore, 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 West Coast Prawn Fishery (South Australia) management unit is classified as a sustainable stock.

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Biology

Western King Prawn biology [Kangas et al. 2015 a,b, Penn 1980, Noell and Hooper 2017]

Biology
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 
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Distributions

Distribution of reported commercial catch of Western King Prawn
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Tables

Fishing methods
South Australia
Commercial
Otter Trawl
Management methods
Method South Australia
Commercial
Catch limits
Effort limits
Limited entry
Spatial closures
Vessel restrictions
Active vessels
South Australia
10 in GSVPF, 39 in SGPF, 3 in WCPF
GSVPF
Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery (SA)
SGPF
Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery (SA)
WCPF
West Coast Prawn Fishery (SA)
Catch
South Australia
Commercial 236.79t in GSVPF, 2.01Kt in SGPF, 162.09t in WCPF
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational 0t
GSVPF
Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery (SA)
SGPF
Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery (SA)
WCPF
West Coast Prawn Fishery (SA)

Queensland - Indigenous In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers in Queensland 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 may be applied for through permits.

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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Western King Prawn - note confidential catch not shown
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References

  1. Beckmann and Hooper, unpublished, Status of the West Coast Prawn Penaeus (Melicertus) latisulcatus Fishery in 2017. Fishery Status Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
  2. Caputi , N, de Lestang, S, Hart, A, Kangas, M, Johnston, D and Penn, J 2014a, 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.
  3. Caputi, N, Feng, M, Pearce, A, Benthuysen, J, Denham, A, Hetzel, Y, Matear, R, Jackson, G, Molony, B, Joll, L and Chandrapavan, A 2014b, Management implications of climate change effect on fisheries in Western Australia: Part 1, final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2010/535, Fisheries Research Report, Western Australian Department of Fisheries.
  4. Caputi, N, Penn, JW, Joll, LM and Chubb, CF 1998, Stock-recruitment-environment relationships for invertebrate species of Western Australia. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Special Publication, 125: 247–255.
  5. Carrick, N 2008, Determining the impact of environmental variability on the sustainability, fishery dynamics and economic performance of the West Coast Prawn Fishery, final report, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 2005/082, FRDC and Fisheries and Environmental Consulting Services, Canberra.
  6. Carrick, NA 2003, Spencer Gulf Prawn (Melicertus latisulcatus) Fishery, Fishery Assessment Report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia Fisheries, South Australian Research and Development Institute publication RD03/0079-2, SARDI Research Report Series 161, SARDI, Adelaide.
  7. Carrick, NA and Ostendorf, B 2005, Modelling prawn movement and spatial dynamics in the Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fisheries. Canberra, Australia.
  8. DoF 2014, Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery Harvest Strategy 2014–2019. Fisheries Management Paper No. 267. Department of Fisheries, WA.
  9. DoF 2018, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery Harvest Strategy 2014–2019. Fisheries Management Paper No. 265. Department of Fisheries.
  10. 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.
  11. Grey, DL, Dall, W and Baker, A 1983, A Guide to the Australian Penaeid Prawns, Northern Territory Department of Primary Production, Darwin.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. McLeay, L, Beckmann, C and Hooper, G 2017, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Penaeus (Melicertus) latisulcatus Fishery 2016/17. Fishery Assessment report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture. South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2007/000782-7. SARDI Research Report Series No. 972.
  15. Noell, CJ and Hooper, 2017, Spencer Gulf Prawn Penaeus (Melicertus) latisulcatus Fishery, Fishery Assessment Report to PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide. SARDI Publication No. F2007/000770-9. SARDI Research Report Series No. 950. 76pp.
  16. 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.
  17. Penn, JW 1980, Spawning and fecundity of the western king prawn, Penaeus latisulcatus, Kishinouye, in Western Australian waters, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 31: 21–35.
  18. Penn, JW 1984, The behaviour and catchability of some commercially exploited penaeids and their relationship to stock and recruitment, in: Gulland, JA and Rothschild, BJ (eds.), Penaeid shrimps – their biology and management, Fishing News Books Ltd, Farnham, pp. 173–186.
  19. Penn, JW and Caputi, N 1986, Spawning stock-recruitment relationships and environmental influences on the brown tiger prawn (Penaeus esculentus) fishery in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 37: 491–505.
  20. PIRSA 2010, Management policy for the commercial West Coast Prawn Fishery. p. 18: Primary Industries and Resources SA.
  21. PIRSA 2014, Management Plan for the South Australian Commercial Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, South Australian Fisheries Management Series, no. 74, Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, Adelaide.
  22. PIRSA 2017, Management Plan for the South Australian Commercial Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery, South Australian Fisheries Management Series, no. 67, Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, Adelaide.
  23. Pitcher, CR, Doherty, P, Arnold, P, Hooper, J, Gribble, N, Bartlett, C, Browne, M, Campbell, N, Cannard, T, Cappo, M, Carini, G, Chalmers, S, Cheers, S, Chetwynd, D, Colefax, A, Coles, R, Cook, S, Davie, P, De’ath, G, Devereux, D, Done, B, Donovan, T, Ehrke, B, Ellis, N, Ericson, G, Fellegara, I, Forcey, K, Furey, M, Gledhill, D, Good, N, Gordon, S, Haywood, M, Jacobsen, I, Johnson, J, Jones, M, Kinninmoth, S, Kistle, S, Last, P, Leite, A, Marks, S, McLeod, I, Oczkowicz, S, Rose, C, Seabright, D, Sheils, J, Sherlock, M, Skelton, P, Smith, D, Smith, G, Speare, P, Stowar, M, Strickland, C, Sutcliffe, P, Van der Geest, C, Venables, W, Walsh, C, Wassenberg, T, Welna, A and Yearsley, G 2007, Seabed biodiversity on the continental shelf of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, Queensland Museum, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and CRC Reef Research Centre, task final report, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research.
  24. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018, Species Summaries. 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane.
  25. 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, WA, 130 pp.