Bay Prawn

Latin names: M. insolitus, Metapenaeus bennettae

Common names: Greasyback Prawn, Greentail Prawn

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Bay prawns are caught using trawl fishing gear in Moreton Bay and inshore and coastal waters further north of Brisbane.
  • Although information on the stock status of bay prawns is minimal, there are no indications of declines in the population. This species grows and reproduces quickly and is resilient to fishing pressure.
  • The accidental catch of threatened and endangered species like endemic sharks and rays is a major issue in Australian prawn fisheries. The Queensland government abandoned an independent observer program in 2012 so bycatch reporting is not reliable and science-based management is hampered as a result.
  • Bay prawns are caught in muddy and sandy areas that are resilient to disturbance from fishing.The majority of fishing takes place in Moreton Bay Marine Park, where 44% of the Bay is protected from the impacts of trawling and the marine habitat is well understood.

More information

  • East Coast Trawl Fishery (248t in 2020, 225t in 2019)

The name ‘bay prawn’ is used for a number of different prawn species; also known as greasyback or greentail prawns, as well as the juveniles of other prawn species. Bay prawns are caught using otter and beam trawl fishing gear in coastal waters. The majority of the catch comes from Moreton Bay, with additional prawns caught in nearshore waters to the north of Brisbane.

Bay prawn abundance is likely driven by environmental factors, and the Moreton Bay Marine Park confers significant protection from fishing, mitigating the associated risks. There are therefore no serious concerns for the health of stock/s at this time.

There is an absence of scientific data and management for the bay prawn fishery, with even an absence of species-level catch reporting. This limits the value of an otherwise welcome recently implemented management arrangements for the fishery, for which some aspects represent best practice approaches.

Bay prawns are caught using beam trawling in river and inshore coastal areas. Bay prawns are found in muddy and sandy areas that are relatively resilient to fishing pressure as fishing areas have naturally high levels of disturbance from river flows. Comprehensive habitat mapping is available for Moreton Bay, and as a result of marine park management and monitoring, the affected habitats are well understood.

Queensland trawl fishers are required to report any threatened and endangered species they catch but serious concerns have been raised in this fishery about unreliable reporting. Bycatch mitigation measures including turtle excluder devices are used in Queensland but may not address all the impacts of the fishery. Despite no major changes to management and a consistent level of fishing effort in recent years, 2019 saw a 63% reduction in bycatch reports of species like sawfish, sea turtles and sea snakes. This bycatch reporting is unverifiable because there has been no independent observer program since 2012.

Trawl fisheries generally catch a high number of species other than those targeted, which can result in a high volume of discarding of unwanted catch. Discarded catch is not required to be reported in QLD, which means that there is no information on the impact of this fishery on marine animals that have no commercial value.

The majority of the fishery operates within the Moreton Bay Marine Park, where trawling is prohibited in 44% of the Bay. These closed areas are likely to convey some protection for threatened species in the Bay. A report that detailed the risk the fishery poses to the marine environment was not publicly available for consideration at the time of this assessment.

The fishery will be required to resume an independent observer program by 2024, likely to be based on e-monitoring. While it is welcome, the program should be implemented sooner. This and other reforms currently underway in the Queensland fishery have strong potential to improve the GoodFish ranking of this seafood option if implemented quickly and effectively.