Prawn Trawling in Queensland, Australia

Photo credit: Tim Huntington (UK – Poseidon)

Review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website

Prawn trawling in Queensland (Australia)


According to the official statistics, the Queensland trawl fishery which extends 2,500 km along the Queensland east coast is the largest and most valuable commercial fishery in Queensland with about 800 fishing vessels, between 85,000 and 90,000 boat-nights (predominantly a night-time fishery) annually and with about 10,000 tons of fish landings. The two basic types of trawlers are otter trawling and beam trawling; the otter trawl fishery is by far the largest because it operates in more-open waters.

The principal prawn species caught by the shrimp trawlers belong to the following shrimp groups:

Tiger prawn (Penaeus esculentusP. semisulcatus or P. monodon) – Endeavour prawn (Metapenaeus endeavouri and M. ensis)

Red spot king prawn (Penaeus longistylus) – Banana prawn (Penaeus merguiensis) – Eastern king prawn (Penaeus plebejus)

Bay prawn (Metapenaeus bennettae and M. macleayi)

The shrimp trawlers in Queensland operate according to the regulations that include:

Limits on operating time: each trawler is permitted to work for a certain number of nights based on the fishing quota it holds

Area closures: for a number of reasons, trawling could be prohibited or restricted during the fishery season in specific areas

Boat size: specifying the boat size is another mechanism to regulate fishing effort (prawn trawlers ranges from 9-20 meters)

Net size: the length and mesh size of trawlers are included in the regulations

Monitoring and reporting: boats operating in certain fisheries or areas are obliged to have on board a vessel monitoring system (VMS), which tracks the position of their boat

In order to maintain top quality, on-board handling for shrimp catch is of top importance. The old and small trawlers may adopt the use of dips followed by subsequent storing of fresh shrimp on ice. As expected, the fishing trips in such ice boats are usually short.

The freezer boats are larger and more advanced in which brine system is adopted. In this system, the freezing of shrimp catch is done on deck before moving frozen product to the frozen storage. The fishing trips are usually longer in regard to the freezer boats.



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