- Certifier :
- MRAG Americas, Inc.
- Certified status :
- Certified since :
- 07 Nov 2012
- Certificate expires :
- 18 Jan 2023
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 around 7,500 tonnes a year, comprising 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.