A trawler collecting samples as part of a CSIRO survey of the Northern Prawn Fishery.

CSIRO enviromental monitoring extends to land, air and sea.

New stock assessment techniques for the Northern Prawn Fishery

New data and innovative modelling technology have led to more accurate stock assessments for the Northern Prawn Fishery.

  • 17 October 2006 | Updated 14 October 2011

The Northern Prawn Fishery catches two similar but distinct species of prawns.

CSIRO used new data and innovative modelling technology to improve the method of recording catches in logbooks. This ensured that catches were subdivided into the components for each prawn species.

This new recording method enhanced the accuracy of stock assessments for each prawn species and led to better understanding of the insecurity of the stocks. The stock assessment underpins the management of the Northern Prawn Fishery. 

The results were reported in January 2006 to the funding agency, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

While the report is yet to be formally accepted by AFMA, its implications are so important for management of the fishery that they are being acted upon immediately.

Our results reallocated biomass between two commercially undifferentiated, but biologically separate stocks of commercial prawns.

The work quantified a serious decline in the stocks of brown tiger prawns Penaeus esculentus that was suggested by the previous assessment but which had been masked by inadequate data and algorithms.

The new estimates of biomass have already been incorporated into the most recent stock assessment and used by the fishery managers to secure the sustainability of the species and the fishery harvest.

Read more about our work in Fisheries.