Royal red prawns have a mild flavour and soft pink flesh.
They are great to use when the whole prawn is not essential, such as where they are battered or the meat is chopped or minced.
Download our species guide on common species caught in AFMA managed fisheries.
FOR THE 2020-21 SEASON
Scientific name: Haliporoides sibogae
Other names: Pink prawn, jack-knife prawn, redspot king prawn
Description: Royal red prawns are uniformly pale pink. The antennae are equal in length. The rostrum extends forward past the eye and there is one small tooth below the tip of the rostrum. There are three small spines on the sides of the carapace.
Size (length and weight): Commonly found at 7‑10 cm in length and 25 grams. Can grow up to 20 cm in length. Females grow larger than males.
Life span: Potentially 3‑4 years.
Habitat: Royal red prawns are a deepwater demersal species that occurs on the edges of continental shelves and slopes. It can be found on mud substrates at depths of 230‑825 metres, but is most abundant at depths of 400‑550 metres. There is some evidence that royal red prawns move into shallower waters during winter.
Prey: Small molluscs, crustaceans and polychaete worms.
Predators: Demersal fish such as blue grenadier, pink ling, gemfish, ocean perch and blue-eye trevalla.
Reproduction: Royal red prawns reach reproductive maturity at about 2 years of age. Spawning peaks in February-April and again in July-August. Females appear to breed several times in their life, whereas males probably breed only once. Females produce 58 000‑140 000 eggs depending on their body size. Royal red prawns generally produce fewer eggs than other prawn species but their eggs are larger. The eggs are blue.
Other notes: The eastern population of royal red prawns is sometimes regarded as a subspecies, H. sibogae australiensis.
|Fishery found in||Gear used||Catch of this species is targeted or incidental|
|Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery – Commonwealth Trawl Sector||Bottom trawl||Targeted|
Management of catch
The Commonwealth catch of royal red prawns is managed under quota, meaning that catch by commercial fishers is restricted by weight.
Commercial fishermen are required to fill in records of their catches, during each fishing trip and when they land their catch in a port. This helps us keep records of how much is being caught.
AFMA decide on the amount that can be caught each year from expert advice and recommendations from fisheries managers, industry members, scientist and researchers.
Royal red prawns are a deep water species found along both the east and west coast of Australia. They occur along the upper continental shelf over soft substrates.
In Commonwealth waters, royal red prawns are predominantly caught in waters at a depth of approximately 400-500 metres in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery.
Fishing gear and environmental impacts
Fishers use trawl nets to fish for royal red prawns.
Sometimes, bottom trawling can catch unwanted species of fish (not the type of fish the net was supposed to catch). This is known as bycatch and it is monitored by on-board fishery observers who assess the environmental impact of the trawling.
Although it is not physically possible to trawl on reef structures, significant long-term damage can occur if sensitive habitat areas like corals, sponges and seagrass beds are trawled. To ensure these sensitive habitat areas are protected from trawling, management arrangements such as area closures are extensively used.
The royal red prawn fishing grounds off Sydney occur in the areas of core habitat for Harrison’s and southern dogfish which are conservation dependent species. As a result, a considerable amount of the fishing grounds have been closed under the Upper Slope Dogfish Management Strategy.
AFMA’s management of commercial trawl fisheries aims to ensure trawl fishing has the least impact possible on the environment.
The impact of bottom trawl on bycatch species and habitats has been assessed as part of the ecological risk assessments. AFMA mitigates, or reduces, that impact through its ecological risk management strategy. The strategy details a number of management arrangements and strategies which aim to reduce the impact of fishing on the environment, including:
- minimum mesh sizes for bottom trawls to reduce the catch of small and juvenile fish
- mitigation devices to reduce interactions with threatened, endangered and protected species
- and closing areas to fishing to protect vulnerable species and habitats.
All bottom trawl boats are also required to have a seabird management plan in place to reduce interactions with seabirds during fishing.