The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) Commission has welcomed the news that the Redleg Banana Prawn sub-fishery in the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf will close from April to mid-June each year to ensure profitability and sustainability.
Following the decision from the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) and NPF Industry Pty (NPFI), NPF prawn trawlers will not fish in the Gulf with effect from 1 April 2021.
Redleg banana prawns are caught in the remote region, west of Darwin. Over the last few seasons, there have been fluctuations in catch and fishing effort, resulting in limited data to support stock assessments.
Recent research from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has highlighted that the combination of the species’ complex life-cycle, extreme tides in their breeding grounds and changing weather patterns create challenges for the stock and its management.
CSIRO was commissioned to test a range of management options and, together with NPFI and AFMA, concluded that seasonal closure of JBG was the best way to ensure sustainability and economic returns. This decision is likely to stabilise fishing effort, add value to the fishery by catching larger prawns and improve the stock assessment process.
The NPF is Australia’s largest prawn fishery and, since 2009, has been co-managed by AFMA and NPFI.