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- Endeavour prawns live in tropical waters and are short-lived and fast-growing. Two species of endeavour prawn are caught in Australia, with blue endeavour prawns caught in WA fisheries.
- Endeavour prawns are caught using bottom otter trawl fishing methods in WA, off the NT and QLD. The great majority of WA catch comes from a fishery operating in Exmouth Gulf, which is assessed here.
- Long-term fishing records and estimates of the number of breeding animals indicate that stocks are healthy.
- Endeavour prawns are caught using otter trawls that operate on the seabed. Trawling is conducted over sandy and muddy habitats in WA prawn fisheries, and some protection for vulnerable habitats is provided by closed areas.
- Bycatch reduction measures are mandatory in the fishery, and have reduced accidental turtle catches. There are interactions with threatened species, including critically endangered species of sawfish, sea snakes and pipefish. There is some concern on the impact of the Exmouth Gulf fishery on sea snake populations.
- WA Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (177t in 2021)
Endeavour prawns are found in northern Australian waters between northern New South Wales and the Gascoyne coast of WA and are found in coastal waters down to approximately 50 m in muddy or sandy habitats. Two species are caught in Australia, Blue and Red endeavour prawns. Blue endeavour prawns are caught in WA. The Exmouth Gulf Prawn fishery takes the great majority of WA catch, and is assessed here. The fishery also targets tiger and western king prawns.
Endeavour prawn populations in Exmouth Gulf are well understood, and are subject to regular scientific assessment and comprehensive monitoring. Though recent catches have been significantly below the historical norm, the population appears healthy. Refuge for endeavour prawn populations is provided by closed areas. Areas closed to fishing are for the purposes of preventing overfishing of juvenile prawns and damage to nursery habitats.
Bycatch reduction devices (BRD) and Turtle Exclusion Devices (TEDs) reduce the amount of threatened and other species that are caught and killed in fishing gear. BRDs and TEDs are mandatory in these fisheries and have been successful in reducing turtle deaths. However, threatened species bycatch remains an ongoing issue.
There are some concerns that bycatch management plans, including the requirement for independent studies of fishery impacts on bycatch species to be conducted every 3 years, are not being conducted in a timely manner. The annual scale (quantities) of bycatch and discarding, and the fate of many discarded species remain poorly understood.
The Exmouth Gulf endeavour prawn fishery catches a species of sea snake that is of particular conservation concern, and while the level of threat posed by prawn trawling is not clear, better management and monitoring of sea snake bycatch will be required in future in order to prevent a downgrade of these fisheries’ GoodFish ranking.