The 2020 quest to catch tiger prawns commenced on 1 August as the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) tiger prawn season began.
This tiger prawn season marks another important step forward for the sustainability of the NPF with the full implementation of four new industry developed Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRDs) – Kon’s Covered Fisheye, FishEX 70, Popeye Fishbox and Tom’s Fisheye BRDs. BRDs are used to limit the accidental capture of marine animals other than the target species, helping to reduce the fishery’s environmental impacts. The four new devices replace older BRDs and it is now compulsory for vessels to use one of these four BRDs in each fishing net for the duration of the tiger prawn season.
This follows extensive industry-led trials carried out in recent years to improve the effectiveness of bycatch reduction in the fishery. The trials demonstrated that these four devices increase bycatch reduction by 37 to 44% compared to the most common BRD previously used in the fishery. It is thanks to environmental initiatives such as these that the NPF is able to retain its status as one of only a few prawn fisheries around the world to be certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Tiger prawns, so-called because of their distinctive stripes, grow larger than most other species of prawn and are a popular choice for a wide range of dishes. The NPF stretches across approximately 770,000 square kilometres of the pristine seas of northern Australia, from Cape York in Queensland to Cape Londonderry in the Kimberley. Crews will spend up to four months searching for tiger prawns in these tropical waters. The season is set to close on 30 November, unless catch rates prompt an early closure.
To get an insight into the lives of fishers in the NPF and how they are working to reduce the environmental impact of trawling, check out the Australian Wild Prawns website.