Endeavour Prawn

Latin names: M. ensis, Metapenaeus endeavouri

Common name: Prawn

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Two species of endeavour prawns - blue and red - are caught in bottom otter trawls in Queensland. They are caught as byproduct by fishers targeting tiger prawns.
  • While the endeavour prawn catch is weakly managed in Queensland, the species is likely resilient to overfishing and there is no evidence the stock is unhealthy.
  • The accidental catch of threatened and endangered species like endemic sharks and rays is a major issue in Australian prawn fisheries. Bycatch mitigation measures including turtle excluder devices are used in Queensland but the state abandoned an independent observer program in 2012 so bycatch reporting may not be reliable.
  • Endeavour prawns are caught using otter trawls that operate just above the seafloor. Trawling is conducted over sandy and muddy seafloors in and around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Current zoning means that 66% of the marine park is closed to fishing and the impact of trawling over previously trawled habitat is not thought to be of high risk to the environment.
  • The Queensland fishery is managed under a newly implemented harvest strategy. The strategy is improving the balance of ecological, social and economic factors at play in the fishery by implementing management techniques which look after the stock better.

More information

  • East Coast Trawl Fishery (361t in 2020, 447t in 2019)

Endeavour prawns are found in northern Australian waters between northern New South Wales and the Gascoyne coast of WA. They are found in coastal waters down to 50m in mud or sand sediment.

While the endeavour prawn catch is weakly managed in Queensland, with no scientific assessments of stocks in place and poor identification of species in catch records the species are likely resilient to overfishing and there is no evidence the stock is unhealthy.

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. 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.

This fishery has a high level of discards and it is concerning they are not required to be reported. The most recently available data estimated 25,271t of discards in 2014, compared to 6702t of retained catch in the same year.

Endeavour prawns are mostly caught as a secondary species in the northern region of four management regions within the fishery. In this section, other secondary byproduct species include banana prawns and Moreton Bay bugs. In the central section where endeavour prawns are also caught, other byproducts include red spot king prawns, banana prawns, Moreton Bay bugs and saucer scallops. Tiger prawns are the main target species in both regions.

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.