Western King Prawn


Latin name: Melicertus latisulcatus


Common names: Prawn, prawns

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Wild Caught

Region:
WA

Key Facts

  • Stocks of western king prawns are currently considered acceptable in WA.
  • Western king prawns are caught using otter trawls mainly over sandy and muddy seafloors, which are relatively resilient to the effects of trawling.
  • Marine parks provide some protection from the impacts of trawling in Exmouth Gulf and Shark Bay.
  • Bycatch reduction measures are mandatory in these fisheries, and have likely reduced accidental turtle catches.
  • The fisheries interact with threatened species, including sawfish, turtles and sea snakes. Some efforts have been made to reduce the impact of fishing on these species, and although catches remain significant they are not thought to be driving further population declines.
  • Fishery plans include the introduction of an independent observer program to verify the impact of the fishery on endangered wildlife, although it is unclear whether this has been implemented or progressed.

More information

  • WA Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery, Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (1,822t in 2015)

Western king prawns are caught in various jurisdictions around Australia, with the largest catches coming from SA. High volumes are also caught in WA fisheries, where there are no concerns over the health of the prawn populations.

The fisheries report interactions with sawfish, turtles and sea snakes, although fishery reports suggest that significant impacts on threatened species are unlikely. 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 likely been successful in reducing turtle deaths. However, threatened species bycatch remains an ongoing issue. Fishery plans include the introduction of an independent observer program, although it is unclear whether this has been implemented or progressed.

Prawns are caught using otter trawls that operate mainly over mud and sand. Otter trawls operate just above the seafloor when targeting western king 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. 62% of Shark Bay is protected from the impacts of trawling in marine parks, with marine parks providing some protection in Exmouth Gulf. Research shows that marine parks are highly effective tools to protect ecosystems from prawn trawl fishing impacts.