New by-catch reduction option for Australian prawn fishery
‘Tom’s Fisheye’ provides an additional option for reducing by-catches in Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery. Image: AFMA

New by-catch reduction option for Australian prawn fishery

A new by-catch reduction device, known as ‘Tom’s Fisheye,’ has been added to three other effective devices that have been tested by the Commonwealth Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) fleet, for use during the tiger prawn season from 1st August this year.

Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) CEO Wez Norris, said the trials last year showed the device can reduce by-catch by up to 40% compared to the square mesh panel, which has been the by-catch reduction device primarily used in the NPF up to now.

‘The ‘Tom’s Fisheye’ creates an area of low pressure in the trawl net as it is pulled through the water, increasing access to a gap in the net for fish to escape,’ he explained.

‘There will be a choice for NPF trawl boat operators to use one of these effective devices from 2020, following further commercial testing in the fishery during this year’s tiger prawn season. The Northern Prawn Fishery fishers, led by the NPF Industry Pty Ltd, continue to demonstrate commitment to reducing bycatch through design and trial of new equipment and technology. It is important that fishers can use an effective device that will suit different operating conditions.’

He commented that the industry recently celebrated seven years of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, which is the global standard for best practice fishery sustainability.

‘This commitment from industry, combined with effective management arrangements and sustainable effort limits set by AFMA, work to ensure the NPF remains sustainable for generations to come,’ Wez Norris said.

Annie Jarrett, CEO of the NPF Industry Pty Ltd, said there were early indications of a good season.

‘It has been a good start to this year’s banana prawn season, which commenced on 1 April, with some of the catchment areas around the fishery receiving high monsoonal rainfall – a strong indicator of a high-yield banana prawn season,’ she said.

‘Market demand for NPF banana prawns remains high throughout the year. The 52 trawl boats operating in the NPF are working hard to supply supermarkets and fish markets with Australia’s favourite banana prawns. We encourage all Australians to support a thriving and sustainable Australian fishing industry by enjoying wild-caught MSC-certified prawns. Look for the MSC blue tick on labels at your local seafood supplier.’