Spencer Gulf prawn season looks promising

Spencer Gulf prawn fishermen are hopeful for a catch of up to 425 tonnes pre-Christmas following a positive stock assessment conducted in the past week.

Nine boats were out on the water on November 6 and 7 to conduct the stock assessment survey across two nights.

Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fishermen’s Association executive officer Simon Clark said survey results show early signs of a very promising season pre-Christmas.

“Results were excellent with above average catch rates for adults and juveniles,” he said.

“There’s a good health stock this season, which means we can target up to 425 tonnes pre-Christmas over two trips.”

However the survey results have also led to some areas being closed off for fishing this season.

Mr Clark said results showed some areas had large prawns mixed in with juveniles, which meant the closure of three traditional fishing grounds, including Stones and Musgrave.

“We’ve also kept North End  and Northern Wallaroo closed to protect the big breeding stock,” he said.

“We could’ve fished these areas but decided to keep them closed to protect future stock.”

The Spencer Gulf King Prawn fishery has aimed to maintain a sustainable stock, which has earned it international recognition.

Following the survey the association set the fishing grounds before boats went out on Thursday evening to start the first fishing trip.

The prawn boats are expected to be out on the water for eight nights before beginning their second fishing trip in early December for about 10 to 12 nights.

Mr Clark said the association was excited for the season ahead, but was not going to get to ahead of itself.

“There are good signs for the start of the season but we will take it month by month,” he said.

“We’re excited by the results but the test will be in the fishing.”

Many customers across the state will be awaiting the return of the prawn boats bringing the prawns that will feature on local Christmas tables.

Fresh Fish Place owner Craig McCathie said it was too early to tell how prawn prices will be this season but expected them to be similar to last year.

Mr Clark said he also expected prices to be consistent to last year.