Commercial Prawn Catches in Torres Strait

R. Watson, P. Channells, P. J. Blyth, (1990). “Commercial Prawn Catches in Torres Strait,” Torres Strait prawn project: A review of research 1986-88 (Queensland Fisheries, Brisbane, Australia). Chapter 2.

Records of prawn catches in Torres Strait were poorly recorded during the developmental years of the prawning industry. Information collected by officers of the Northern Fisheries Unit in Cairns shows that in 1973-74 about ten prawn trawlers regularly fished Torres Strait, producing an annual catch of between 100 and 120 t. Catches consisted of mainly Penaeus esculentus, brown tiger prawns, and also Metapenaeus endeavouri, endeavour prawns. Prices at this time averaged $1.20 kg-1 for tiger prawns and $1.00 kg-1 for endeavour prawns. These vessels fished mainly from June to December in Torres Strait, after the end of the P. merguiensis, banana prawn, season in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Following ratification of the Torres Strait Treaty between Australia and Papua New Guinea in 1985 a management area, the Torres Strait Proteded Zone (TSPZ), was defined under the jurisdiction of the Proteded Zone Joint Authority (Sedion 1 – Figure 1). Although legally distind from the two adjacent prawn fisheries, the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) and the Queensland East Coast Prawn Fishery, management of the Torres Strait Prawn Fishery has been run as part of the East Coast Prawn Fishery. With the introdudion of joint management of Torres Strait fisheries with Papua New Guinea it became important to examine existing catch data for historical trends. The introduction of prawn catch quotas required by the Torres Strait Treaty relied on past catch records. This sedion collates historical catch data and examines trends in catch and effort.