Western King Prawn


Latin name: Melicertus latisulcatus


Common names: Prawn, prawns

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Wild Caught

Region:
SA

Key Facts

  • Western king prawns are caught in multiple locations around Australia, with the largest fisheries operating in SA.
  • Stocks of western king prawns caught in SA are considered healthy.
  • The trawl fisheries catch low numbers of protected pipefish, seahorses and sea dragons but scientific assessments indicate that fishing is not resulting in population declines of these species.
  • The area of seabed trawled is mainly made up of mud and sand. Areas less than 10m depth are closed and protect seagrass beds, and fishery managers limit the amount of seabed that can be trawled. This means the overall footprint of the fishery is low.

More information

  • SA Spencer Gulf Prawn Fishery, Gulf St. Vincent Prawn Fishery, West Coast Prawn Fishery (2,402t in 2015-16)

Western king prawns are caught in various jurisdictions around Australia, with the largest catches coming from SA. In SA, these prawns are caught in Spencer Gulf, Gulf St. Vincent and outside of the gulfs. Stocks are considered healthy in these areas, based on long term fishery records of catch and regular scientific surveys of prawn numbers. Historical stock collapse in the Gulf St. Vincent fishery has been addressed by management actions, including closing the area to fishing to protect the prawns. Numbers of western king prawns in this region are considered healthy.

The trawl fisheries that catch western king prawns also catch low numbers of pipefish, seahorses and sea dragons, all of which are protected species. Independent bycatch studies have concluded that the impact of fishing activity on these species is low, and is not causing significant declines in their populations. Proactive approaches to the bycatch of giant cuttlefish in the trawls has reduced the number of cuttlefish caught, and an industry-led code of conduct is working to improve the survival rates of cuttlefish so they can be returned to the sea alive if caught.

Western king prawns are caught in bottom and mid-water trawl nets. Fishing grounds are mainly mud and sand, which are relatively resilient to trawling impacts, the areas fished are relatively well understood, and fishing is banned in waters less than 10m deep, which protects important seagrass habitat. Fishery managers also limit the areas that can be trawled, which protects large areas of the seafloor from trawling. The overall trawl footprint of the fishery is low. Marine parks offer a degree of protection for habitats in SA fisheries.