Australia’s fisheries are carefully managed to be sustainable. Scientists set catch and effort limits and the fishers catch within those — and quite often, less. Fishing effort is controlled, monitored and constantly cross checked by a number of authorities to ensure Australian fisheries are amongst the best managed in the world.
Bycatch reduction device

Leaders in Sustainable Fisheries Management

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Australia’s prawn fisheries lead the world in fisheries management.

Bio-economic models and stock assessment surveys are used in many fisheries to set harvest levels that maintain productive prawn stocks while maximising fishery returns and minimising ecological impacts.

Australia’s prawn fishers are involved in management in partnership with State and Federal governments and actively invest in managing bycatch and reducing environmental impacts. All prawn fisheries operate and are committed to high ecologically sustainable standards. Fisheries operate under their state, territory or federal legislation. They are required to meet obligations under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and achieve the Global Seafood Sustainability Index standard.

Sustainable Management Methods

All prawn fisheries regulate some or all of the following management methods to ensure sustainable stocks and environmental protection:

  • limited entry to the fishery,
  • vessel size restrictions,
  • gear restrictions,
  • effort limits,
  • spatial and closures.

For more information on which measures are used by species and jurisdiction see FRDC’s Status of Fish stock report.

“We have a very bright future. We are very well managed to the point of being sometimes over managed or over cautious but you can always guarantee that when you go back next year you’re gonna come home with something.”

Bob Britcher, 1990, Spencer Gulf prawn fisherman

“As far as the stock goes, I think it’s being strictly policed now by the Fisheries Department. It won’t ever be allowed to drop back to what it was in the early ’80s, and there will always be a viable industry here.”

Anthony Tomlinson, 1990, skipper, Exmouth Gulf prawn fishing

MSC – Certified Sustainable Seafood

Some Australian prawn fisheries have sought out independent third party accreditation to demonstrate their strong ecologically sustainable management.

The Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, the Northern Prawn Fishery, Shark Bay Fishery and Exmouth Fishery have been assessed and are certified by the internationally recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

Prawns off Moolooba image © Baron Symes for Salt of the Sea
Kon’s Covered Fisheye image © Charlie McKillop, ABC
MSC certification