Certifier : 
MRAG Americas, Inc.
Certified status : 
Certified since : 
07 Nov 2012
Certificate expires : 
18 Jul 2023


Fisheries are composed of one or more parts, each of which is entitled to receive an MSC certificate. These parts or “units” are defined by their target stock(s), fishing gear type(s) and if relevant vessel type(s), and the fishing fleets or groups of vessels.

When the term “Unit of Certification” is used for fishing units that are in assessment, it refers to the “Unit of Assessment” or “Unit of potential certification”. Expand a status below to view the parts that form this fishery. To check the detailed scope, download the latest certificate or open the Assessments page to get the latest report. Find out more by visiting our page on Fisheries

Units of Certification & Certificate Information

  • Certified
    MSC UoC Number Species Gear Type Ocean Area Certificate Code
    UoC-0634 Banana prawn (Fenneropenaeus merguiensis) Trawls - Bottom trawls - otter trawls 71 (Pacific, Western Central) MSC-F-31347 (MRAG-F-0009)
    UoC-0631 Blue endeavour prawn (Metapenaeus endeavouri) Trawls - Bottom trawls - otter trawls 71 (Pacific, Western Central) MSC-F-31347 (MRAG-F-0009)
    UoC-0629 Brown tiger prawn (Penaeus esculentus) Trawls - Bottom trawls - otter trawls 71 (Pacific, Western Central) MSC-F-31347 (MRAG-F-0009)
    UoC-0630 Grooved tiger prawn (P. semisulcatus) Trawls - Bottom trawls - otter trawls 71 (Pacific, Western Central) MSC-F-31347 (MRAG-F-0009)
    UoC-0633 Indian white prawn (Fenneropenaeus indicus) Trawls - Bottom trawls - otter trawls 71 (Pacific, Western Central) MSC-F-31347 (MRAG-F-0009)
    UoC-0632 Red endeavour prawn (Metapenaeus ensis) Trawls - Bottom trawls - otter trawls 71 (Pacific, Western Central) MSC-F-31347 (MRAG-F-0009)

View glossary of terms

Catch by Species

Species Reported Catch Year Metric Tonnes
Blue endeavour prawn (Metapenaeus endeavouri) 2020 253
Grooved tiger prawn (P. semisulcatus) 2020 957
Indian white prawn (Fenneropenaeus indicus) 2020 139
Brown tiger prawn (Penaeus esculentus) 2020 409
Red endeavour prawn (Metapenaeus ensis) 2020 125
Banana prawn (Fenneropenaeus merguiensis) 2020 2,766

Information is provided by an independent Conformity Assessment Body as live weight (the weight of species at the time of catch, before processing) and where a fishing season covers multiple years, the end year is given as the reported catch year. Additional information is available in the latest report, see the assessments page.

Eligibility, client groups and vessel lists

A fishery may choose to define the members of the fishery certificate. These members may be vessels or other client group members (client group members may be companies that own vessels and/or companies that are named as eligible to handle product from that fishery).

Documents Published on Files
Vessel List 29 Oct 2019 1 files

About this Fishery

Prawns from the Australia Northern prawn fishery served on plate © MSC

Australia’s largest prawn fishery covers 771,000km2 of tropical waters off Australia’s northern coast. More than 50 vessels catch several different species.

White banana prawns form dense aggregations ('boils') that are located by spotters in planes, who direct the trawlers to them. The highest catches are taken in areas offshore from nursery areas based around mangrove forests. Trawl times are short, lasting 20-30 minutes.  

Tiger prawns are taken mainly at night. Although tiger prawn fishing grounds are often close to those of banana prawns, the highest catches are around seagrass habitats. Tiger prawn fishers also catch red endeavour and king prawns.

Red-legged banana prawns are caught in deeper waters during neap tides, with fishing only occurring for up to 14 days a month on average. 

Prawn trawling is an active fishing method which involves towing a conical-shaped net spread open by two or four steel or timber 'otter boards' over the seabed, commonly called otter trawling. All nets in the fishery are fitted with approved devices to exclude turtles and to reduce bycatch.

Each fishing season is limited, and other restrictions may be imposed to ensure the sustainability of the stock. For example, the red-legged banana prawn sub-fishery was closed during the first fishing season from 2007 to 2010.

Discover the story of the Northern Prawn Fishery:

Watch Born Free, Caught Wild on YouTube

Market Information

The fishery supplies fresh and frozen prawns in Australia, including to leading supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths. It also exports frozen prawns, mainly to China and Japan.