- Eat Less
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- Banana prawns live in tropical Australian waters, and are short-lived and fast-growing. Most WA catch comes from fisheries in the Kimberley and Nickol Bay in the Pilbara region.
- Long-term fishing records indicate that populations are healthy.
- Habitat impacts of WA banana prawn fisheries are not well researched. Science based marine parks likely provide significant protection for habitats in the Kimberley fishery, but are largely absent from most of the Nickol Bay fishery. Habitat impacts are effectively managed in the Kimberley fishery via extensive spatial and marine park closures, though these protections are largely absent from the Nickol Bay fishery.
- Management of bycatch impacts is poor in both fisheries compared to best practice in Australian prawn trawl fisheries, including elsewhere in WA, with no investment in crucial independent scrutiny of fisher bycatch reporting.
- Marine parks throughout the Kimberley fishery are designed in accordance with scientific principles and likely provide significant protection for vulnerable species and habitats. These protections are largely absent from the Nickol Bay fishery.
- As a result of these protections, banana prawns caught in the Kimberley fishery have an Amber GoodFish Ranking, but those caught from the Nickol Bay fishery have a Red GoodFish ranking.
- WA Kimberley Prawn Managed Fishery and Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (346t in 2021)
Banana prawns are found in shallow estuaries and intertidal areas to depths of 45m. They live in turbid waters for much of their lifespan, inhabiting sheltered mangrove creeks as juveniles and relatively sheltered coastlines as juveniles.
Banana prawns are caught in Western Australia using bottom otter trawl fishing methods in two fisheries, the Nickol Bay Prawn Managed Fishery, and the Kimberly Prawn Managed Fishery. Minor catches come from a fishery in Exmouth Gulf which is not assessed here.
Knowledge of these fisheries’ impact on sensitive habitats is rudimentary relative to other major prawn fisheries, which is of some concern as the demersal otter trawl fishing methods used to catch prawns are known to cause significant disturbance to the seabed.
Independent observer programs are important in prawn trawl fisheries, most of which have high levels of associated bycatch and operate in waters vital to the survival of endangered turtles, sea snakes, sawfish, sharks and marine mammals. These programs can ensure reliable information is collected to support management and reduce any impacts on bycatch species.
Unlike other prawn fisheries operating in WA, there is no independent on-going observer scrutiny of the Nickol Bay and Kimberley banana prawn fisheries, which is of concern and well behind best management practice.
Prawns caught in the Nickol Bay banana prawn fishery are GoodFish ranked Red overall for this reason, but the precautionary protection for bycatch species and habitats conferred by Kimberley marine parks enables an Amber GoodFish ranking for the Kimberley banana prawn fishery, which consumers should choose preferentially if possible.