AUSTRALIAN PRAWN FISHERIES
Australian wild prawns are available all year round, throughout Australia, although some seasonality does occur, depending on the fishery. Each fishery targets different species and in some cases this is dependent on the time of year and which species are most abundant. Nearly all prawn fisheries catch multiple prawn species, while only a few target one particular species.
Australian Prawn Fisheries Value
Australian prawn fisheries are globally recognised as some of the best managed in the world.
Prawn fishing occurs in the tropical, subtropical and temperate waters of Australia and ranges from small scale recreational fishing to large-scale operations using vessels of up to 40m in length. The prawn fishing industry is the second largest fishing sector in Australia.
In 2016-17, Australian prawn fishers caught 20,569 tonnes of prawns worth almost $306 million, of which $114 million worth were exported.
Australian Prawn Fisheries in Numbers by State
|Jurisdiction||Tonnes (2017)||Value (2017)||No. Allocations (2016)|
|NSW||1,326||$20.9 million||943 shareholdings|
|QLD||6,519||$79.2 million||461 licence holders|
|SA||2,429||$46.3 million||52 licence holders|
|WA||3,062||$44.7 million||47 licence holders|
|Commonwealth||7,159||$113.8 million||53 vessels (NPF) and 532 endorsements (Torres Strait)|
 Australian fisheries & aquaculture statistics 2017
Where are the Prawn Fisheries?
Australia’s arid interior meets a mangrove coastline around the North West Cape and the main coastline of Western Australia to create a marine rich environment for Western Australia’s second largest prawn fishery. Western King, Endeavour, Tiger and Banana Prawns can be found around Exmouth Bay.
A network of lakes, marshes and lagoons along the coast around Lakes Entrance is the prawn breeding ground in Victoria. Eastern King prawns are caught in the lakes and further out to sea.
Sheltered by Yorke Peninsula on its west, and the Fleurieu Peninsula on its east, the Gulf of St Vincent is a sheltered and shallow gulf home to Western king prawns.
The pristine waters of the Northern Prawn Fishery, Australia’s largest prawn fishery, are some of the most abundant and isolated in the world. The 6000kms of coastline harbors the most spectacular untouched wilderness and includes a diverse range of ecosystems, weather and wildlife. It’s these pristine waters that the succulent and wild-caught Banana, Tiger, Endeavour and Eastern King prawns from the Northern Prawn Fishery call home.
Estuaries of the Clarence, Hawkesbury and Hunter Rivers on the NSW holiday coast breed NSW best school prawns while further out to sea the larger species of Tiger and Eastern King prawn are found.
Prawns from Australia’s vast sunshine state come from extensive inshore lagoons behind the Great Barrier reef; major river systems flowing out of the Great Dividing range; the wild ocean off the Fraser, Cooloola, Sunshine, and Gold coasts; and quiet bays protected by the largest sand islands in the world. Species found along the coast include Banana, Tiger, Endeavour and Eastern King prawns.
The sparsely populated World Heritage listed area is home to Western Australia’s largest prawn fishery. The 1500km of coastline is bordered by the limestone cliffs of Edel Land Peninsula and Dirk Hartog Island to the west, red sand hills of Peron Peninsula, and the tidal eastern coast. Western King, Endeavour, Tiger and Coral Prawns can be found in Shark Bay.
Spencer Gulf: Facing the cool clean southern ocean the Spencer Gulf supports a large inverse estuary bordered by Eyre Peninsula on the West and York Peninsula to its east. The Western King prawn is a remnant tropical species, being harvested from the cooler temperate waters, producing a sweet firmed flesh prawn.
West Coast: The West Coast prawn fishery is a a small three boat oceanic fishery, which faces the vast clean waters of the Great Australian Bight. Prawn production is supported by shallow bays along the coast that facilitate recruitment. The fishery is driven by climatic conditions.
Lying between the tip of Cape York and Papua New Guinea, consisting of over 100 islands and many more reefs, the main fishing ground is to the east of the Warrior Reef complex with a focus around Yorke Islands. Banana, Tiger, Endeavour and Eastern King prawns can be caught in these waters.