Eastern School Prawns

Eastern School Prawn

Metapenaeus macleayi


New South Wales

“Eastern School Prawn is commercially fished throughout most of its range in New South Wales, although there has been limited harvest between the latitudes 35 and 36°S in recent years. Destructive flooding on the New South Wales east coast and associated deterioration in water quality likely affected catches in 2015, particularly on the mid-New South Wales coast. This was observed as a decrease in the Estuary Prawn Trawl Fishery (EPTF) catches in the Hunter River and Hawkesbury River relative to the previous year, and in the Estuary General Fishery catches in the central and mid-north coast regions.

Catches of this species have tended to fluctuate around a long-term average of about 780 t over the period 2000–154. In 2002–09, catches increased steadily from 460–1115 t, and decreased thereafter to 621 t in 2015. Average annual catches over these two periods remained at 780 and 782 t respectively. Recent research and modelling have established that environmental factors can have a strong influence on Eastern School Prawn catches5, and this has likely contributed to the patterns observed. The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be recruitment overfished.

Effort in the EPTF in 2015 was slightly greater than the average across the period 2010–14 (around 4027 days), although there was no fishing effort in the Hunter River within the EPTF in the spring/summer of the 2015–16 season due to a voluntary fishery closure. Catch rates of Eastern School Prawn in the EPTF were higher in 2015 than for the period 2010–14, driven mainly by greater catches and higher catch rates in the Clarence River. Since 2005, overall catch rates have tended to be positively correlated with catches4, indicating that catch trends are largely driven by changes in availability and abundance, probably caused by environmental factors affecting spawning and recruitment success. Thus, fluctuations in stock abundance appear to be environmentally-driven, rather than driven by the fishery itself. This level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

On the basis of the evidence provided above, Eastern School Prawn in New South Wales is classified as a sustainable stock.”

Read all FRDC information on School Prawns

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