N. R. Loneragan, D. J. Die, G. M. Kailis, R. Watson, N. Preston, (2001). “Developing and Assessing Techniques for Enhancing Tropical Australian Prawn Fisheries and the Feasibility of Enhancing the Brown Tiger Prawn (Penaeus Esculentus) Fishery in Exmouth Gulf” Revised Final Report to FRDC
The prawn trawl fishery in Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, is well managed and harvests a mixture of penaeid prawns. Catches of the high value, brown tiger prawn Penaeus esculentus have comprised about 36% of the annual catch in the 1990s. However, annual catches of tiger prawns are now about half the level they were in the 1970s and fluctuate markedly, from about 200 to 680 t. These changes in catch create uncertainty in the supply of prawns for export markets and force fishing and processing operators to have excess capacity to deal with good years. Managers, fishing industry and researchers are considering the option of enhancing the natural recruitment of brown tiger prawns by releasing juveniles in wild nursery areas to reduce natural fluctuations and increase the average annual catch. This collaborative project (CSIRO, Fisheries WA, MG Kailis Group of Companies) assessed the feasibility of stock enhancement of tiger prawns in Exmouth Gulf by: developing a bioeconomic model, examining the risks of changes in the genetic composition and introducing disease to the wild population of tiger prawns, and identifying further work that would be needed before stock enhancement should proceed. This is the first stage in several stages that would lead to stock enhancement of tiger prawns in Exmouth Gulf. The project was initiated through a workshop of all project participants in Perth in July 1998.