UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: King prawns and Moreton Bay Bugs caught off the Clarence. Research funds will be directed at king prawns to determine how their habitat has been affected.
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: King prawns and Moreton Bay Bugs caught off the Clarence. Research funds will be directed at king prawns to determine how their habitat has been affected. Adam Hourigan

Study looks at the future of NSW's king prawn fishery

RESEARCH is under way to understand the impact of habitat loss and rehabilitation on the eastern king prawn and provide important insights into one of the most valuable fisheries in NSW.

The project will bring together the expertise and support of individual commercial fishers involved in the eastern king prawn fishery, fisheries managers and researchers, the NSW Professional Fishermen's Association, the Newcastle Commercial Fishermen's Co-operative, and Oceanwatch, as well as highlighting habitat issues with land managers and local councils.

Department of Primary Industries project manager Dr Matt Taylor said the three-year project had three main components.

"One aspect of the project is to research how the young eastern king prawns are using estuaries and conditions that provide for maximum growth and survival," Dr Taylor said.

"Alongside this research, we will be looking at the extent to which habitat has been lost in some of the key estuaries between the Tweed and the Hawkesbury.

"This will help us to understand the benefits of targeted wetland rehabilitation and improved management of freshwater flows into estuaries.

"The other important aspect of the project is the work we and our project partners will be doing with commercial fishers.

"We are really focussed on engaging with the commercial fishers who are active in this industry and making sure they get the information they need about eastern king prawn habitat and how to improve eastern king prawn recruitment," the senior research scientist said.

In addition to DPI funds, this project is supported by funding from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation on behalf of the Australian Government. Additional funding is being provided by the Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority, the Northern Rivers CMA, as well as Hunter Water, Newcastle Ports Corporation and Origin Energy.

"The support of all these funding bodies reflects a widespread appreciation of the significance of this fishery and the importance of ensuring it is sustained into the future through appropriate habitat protection and rehabilitation," said Professional Fishermen's Association executive officer Trish Beattie.

"This project will improve our understanding of the critical habitat factors that affect the rise and fall of eastern king prawn populations," she said.



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