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WA, Commonwealth waters
- Endeavour prawns live in tropical waters and are short-lived and fast-growing. 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 just above the seafloor. Trawling is conducted over sandy and muddy seafloors in the Commonwealth and WA fisheries, and has a relatively low impact on the marine environment.
- Bycatch reduction measures are mandatory in these fisheries, and have reduced accidental turtle catches.
- All fisheries interact with threatened species, including critically endangered species of sawfish, sea snakes and pipefish. Although efforts have been made to reduce the impact of fishing on these species, catches remain significant although are not thought to be driving further declines in population numbers.
- Commonwealth Northern Prawn Fishery & Torres Strait Prawn Fishery (430t in 2016)
- WA Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (398t in 2015)
The name ‘endeavour prawn’ refers to two species – red and blue endeavour prawns. Both species live in tropical waters and are short-lived and fast-growing. This species is a key additional prawn caught in fisheries that mainly target tiger prawns. Long-term fishing records and estimates of the number of breeding animals indicate that stocks are healthy in areas fished by WA and Commonwealth fisheries.
Prawns are caught using otter trawls that operate mainly over mud and sand. Otter trawls operate just above the seafloor when targeting tiger and endeavour prawns, which has the potential to cause significant habitat disturbance. Habitat types are relatively well understood in all fishing areas, tend not to support sensitive marine communities and are fairly resilient to disturbance. However, relatively little of the areas in which the fisheries operate is protected in spatial closures or marine parks. Research shows that marine parks are highly effective tools to protect ecosystems from prawn trawl fishing impacts.
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 all these fisheries and have been successful in reducing turtle deaths. However, threatened species bycatch remains an issue.
Catches of sea snakes remains high in the Commonwealth-managed fisheries, although there is no indication that sea snake populations are declining as a result of fishing activity. Endangered sawfish, including the IUCN listed ‘Critically Endangered’ green and ‘Endangered’ dwarf sawfish are caught in the Northern Prawn Fishery (one of the Commonwealth managed fisheries) every year, although it is complex to design modified fishing gear to reduce sawfish mortalities because the shape of their rostrums means they are especially prone to entanglement.
The smaller scale WA-managed fishery also reports interactions with sawfish, turtles and sea snakes, but fishery reports suggest that as the fishery is small-scale, significant impacts on threatened species is unlikely. The smaller scale WA-managed fishery also reports interactions with sawfish, turtles and sea snakes, but fishery reports suggest that as the fishery is small-scale, significant impacts on threatened species is unlikely. Fishery plans include the introduction of an independent observer program, although it is unclear whether this has been implemented or progressed.
The Commonwealth fisheries have robust and transparent management arrangements in place, including observer programs, requirements to reports discards, assessments of the risk of the fishery to threatened species, plans in place to reduce bycatch that have proved to successfully deliver that objective, and management actions in place to rectify issues in the fishery, should they occur. It is likely these management arrangements will maintain the progress of these fisheries to reduce their impact on endangered wildlife in future.
Commonwealth marine parks, set to be established in 2018, may provide a degree of protection for endangered species and marine habitat, though it is notable that sectors of industry sought, and may secure, significant reductions in the area of the fishery protected from trawling.
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- Endeavour prawns live in tropical waters and are short-lived and fast-growing. There are no immediate concerns over the stock status of these species.
- The fishery interacts with threatened species, including critically endangered species of sawfish, sea snakes and pipefish. Although efforts have been made to reduce the impact of fishing on these species, catches remain significant although are not thought to be driving further declines in population.
- The fishery observer program in QLD was cancelled in 2012, meaning there is no independent record of the impact of the fishery on threatened species. Observation of the fishery is considered essential to the management of a sustainable fishery. It is highly likely the impact of the fishery on endangered wildlife is higher than currently recorded.
- 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.
- QLD fisheries are currently undergoing broad reforms that should improve this ranking in the future, provided that the reforms deliver the strong and effective management necessary to support sustainable fisheries.
- QLD East Coast Otter Trawl Fishery (524t in 2016)
This assessment is based on the current impact of fishing for endeavour prawns in QLD-managed fisheries. A reform of QLD fisheries is currently underway in order to modernise the management framework, demonstrate sustainability, improve the profitability of the industry and meet community expectations. AMCS will review the sustainability of the fishery following the fishery reform process.
The name ‘endeavour prawn’ refers to two species – red and blue endeavour prawns; both species live in tropical waters and are short-lived and fast-growing. In QLD, the majority of catch is blue endeavour prawns. Little is known about the stock structure of either species, and a key report for the southeastern area of the fishery was not available for use in this assessment, despite efforts to access it in time for inclusion. However, there are no indications there are significant risks to either species as a result of fishing.
In QLD, endeavour prawns are caught in a trawl fishery that targets multiple species of prawns, scallops and fish. The fishery operates within and around the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
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; they are mandatory in this fishery and are believed to have been successful in reducing turtle deaths. However, threatened species bycatch, including of turtles, sea snakes, sawfish and seahorses, remains an issue.
Trawl fisheries generally catch a high number of species other than that 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.
Independent fishery observer programs are an important method of verifying protected species interactions, as well as other fishery impacts, such as the type and volume of discarded catch. Unfortunately the QLD Government has closed the observer program for all QLD managed fisheries in 2012. In the intervening six years, there has been no independent on-vessel monitoring of the impact of the fishery, which is unacceptable for fisheries operating in the ecologically sensitive regions of the Great Barrier Reef. Concerns have been raised regarding under-reporting of endangered species caught in the fishery in logbooks; as there is no record of actual protected species interactions over time, the ecological impacts of the fishery cannot be measured or managed.
Trawling occurs over sandy and muddy substrates within the Great Barrier Reef and Moreton Bay Marine Parks, where habitats are relatively well understood, as well as to the south of the marine park. Zoning closes 66% of the Great Barrier Reef and 44% of the Moreton Bay marine park to trawl fishing, protecting a significant proportion of marine habitat. Assessments of the impact of fishing to marine habitats show that trawling presents a relatively low risk of long-term or significant damage to habitats within the marine park. In addition, all boats operating in the fishery have location monitoring devices, which means that authorities can ensure fishing is only taking place in areas subject to fishing.
There is a strong potential for this rating to improve in the future, provided that the broad reforms currently underway in QLD deliver the strong and effective management needed to support well managed and sustainable fisheries.