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Temporary Closure of the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishery

Crustaceans Sustainability Politics +3 more

AUSTRALIA - The Gulf St Vincent Commercial Prawn Fishery will be temporarily closed, to allow for the economic and biological performance of the fishery to improve.

The move is in response to requests from licence holders who were unanimous in their support, and is effective immediately continuing for 12 months.

Executive Director at PIRSA Fisheries and Aquaculture, Professor Mehdi Doroudi, said PIRSA was supportive of the closure given the economic difficulties being faced by commercial fishers, adding that it would also allow for increases in the prawn biomass that supports the fishery.

The State Government has worked closely with industry recently to develop and implement a new prawn net design which has improved the ecological footprint of the fishery while also providing economic benefits.

While this project has been successful, recent stock assessments have indicated a reduction in the biomass of prawns in Gulf St Vincent putting further pressure on the economic performance of the fishery.

The closure will enable PIRSA to work with industry to review the current management framework of the fishery and identify options to improve its economic and biological performance.

Licence holders will be refunded for any licence fees already paid that will not be used for management of the fishery in 2012/13.

Executive Officer of the Gulf St Vincent Prawn Fishermens Association, Neil MacDonald, said Industry had agreed unanimously to close the fishery for the 2012/13 season.

Catches recorded in 2011/12 were at their lowest point since the early days of the fishery in the late 1960s and similar to the levels recorded before a previous closure in 1991, Mr MacDonald said.

Its expected that the closure over the next year will assist in improving spawning capacity and lead to increased recruitment when the fishery reopens.

This period will also enable us to review the structure of the fishery and seek expert advice on management options and strategies that will form part of a new fishery management plan to improve the performance of the fishery both economically and biologically.

The South Australian Prawn Fishery is divided into three zones, Spencer Gulf, Gulf St Vincent and West Coast, all harvesting Western King Prawns. The Spencer Gulf and West Coast prawn fisheries remain open to fishing.

The Gulf St Vincent Commercial Prawn Fishery, accounts for approximated 10 per cent of the 2500 tonnes of Western King Prawns harvested by South Australian prawn fisheries annually.