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FAO Praise Australian Wild-caught Prawns

by 5m Editor
1 July 2009, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - Australias wild-caught prawns come from the best managed marine fisheries in the world, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

In its report, A global study of shrimp fisheries, the FAO praises Australia’s Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF) as a global model of fair, flexible and accountable management, says CSIRO.

The $64 million NPF harvests banana prawns and tiger prawns from a fishing ground that extends from Weipa in far north Queensland to Cape Londonderry in northern Western Australia.

Senior CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship scientist, Dr Cathy Dichmont, says the NPF is among the first major fisheries in the world to fully embrace both economic efficiency and environmental sustainability in an operational management system.

“This has been achieved by using a bioeconomic model developed by CSIRO, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and the Australian National University to set harvest levels that maintain productive prawn stocks while maximising fishery returns,” Dr Dichmont says.

Research on the model was funded by CSIRO and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, and supported by the NPF and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

The CEO of NPF vessel operator Austral Fisheries, David Carter, says continuing collaboration between the industry, scientists and fishery managers should ensure the NPF’s future success.

“Extensive research in the NPF has helped us address market downturns, over-fishing of tiger prawn stocks, and the environmental impacts of fishing,” Mr Carter says.

“Annual surveys designed by CSIRO monitor prawn stocks and bycatch (non-target species), and science-based management strategies underpin a profitable and sustainable way of fishing.”

The NPF formed the company NPF Industry Pty Ltd in 2008 and is trialling a pioneering co-management approach that, if successful, will provide shared responsibilities between industry and AFMA in the delivery of key fishery management functions.

Mr Carter says the company structure also will provide benefits in areas including cooperative purchasing, standardised trade descriptions and product promotion – such as the launch last year of the “Go Wild Go Bananas” campaign.

5m Editor