Prawn tagging study to assist fishery management

SARDI research scientist Dr Craig Noell measuring the carapace length (head and thorax) of a female prawn which had travelled at least 27km within the central part of the gulf before being recaptured by prawn fishers. She had grown 4.5mm to 44.5 mm within 169 days. SARDI research scientist Dr Craig Noell measuring the carapace length (head and thorax) of a female prawn which had travelled at least 27km within the central part of the gulf before being recaptured by prawn fishers. She had grown 4.5mm to 44.5 mm within 169 days.

The Spencer Gulf prawn fishing industry and State Government researchers are collaborating on a prawn tagging study to improve understanding of growth and movement patterns of prawns in southern Spencer Gulf.

Together they have tagged 6,000 western king prawns in this region over the past two years, around 100 of which have been recaptured by prawn fishers and sent to researchers for analysis. Some prawns had travelled more than 50km within the Gulf.

South Australia Fisheries Minister Gail Gago said the idea for the project came from prawn fishers searching for ways to improve their management practices.

“Little is known about the movement of prawns that occupy the southern region of Spencer Gulf, and fishing strategies have therefore erred on the side of caution,” Ms Gago said.

“Knowing more about prawn movement will help gauge their contribution to stock and spawning, and improve our management of the already internationally-accredited Marine Stewardship Council-certified fishery.”

South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) scientist Dr Craig Noell said that when a tagged prawn is recaptured during commercial trawling, it is placed with a label in a bag by the prawn fisher, frozen and sent for analysis by SARDI researchers.

“The information we need is the tag number, date of recapture, and GPS location,” he said.

“When this information is matched up with information recorded about when the prawn was tagged and released, growth and movement of the prawn can be established.”

More tagged prawns are expected to be recaptured during the 2014 fishing season.

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