Tiger Prawn

Latin names: P. esculentus, Penaeus semisulcatus

Common name: Prawn

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Wild Caught


Key Facts

  • Two species of tiger prawns - brown and grooved - are caught in bottom otter trawls in Queensland.
  • Tiger prawns live in tropical waters and are short-lived and fast-growing. While the tiger prawn catch is weakly managed in Queensland, the species is likely resilient to overfishing and there is no evidence the stock is unhealthy. Environmental fluctuations, linked to seasonal rainfall, are likely to have greater impact on their stock levels than fishing pressure.
  • 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.
  • Tiger 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. 66% of the marine park is closed to fishing and the impact of trawling over 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 (1,309t in 2020, 1158t in 2019)

Brown and grooved tiger prawns are fast growing species generally resilient to fishing pressure. There are no indications that there are significant risks to either species as a result of fishing in QLD.

Tiger prawns are mainly caught in the northern and central regions of the fishery. These lie entirely within the Great Barrier Reef marine park, which likely provides a degree of protection for bycatch, byproduct and discard species.

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.

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.

Tiger prawns are found in inshore shallow estuaries and intertidal areas to the continental shelves to depths of upto 200m.They are found from the Gascoyne area in WA throughout northern Australia to the northern coast of New South Wales.