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Contraction of the banana prawn (Penaeus merguiensis) fishery of Albatross Bay in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia

Prince, J.D., Loneragan, N.R. and Okey, T.A. (2008) Contraction of the banana prawn (Penaeus merguiensis) fishery of Albatross Bay in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research, 59 (5). pp. 383-390.

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When the biomass and area occupied by a stock decline together, catch rates can remain high (hyperstability) and management with effort controls may be ineffectual. Banana prawn (Penaeus merguiensis) catches declined from 2000 until 2005 in the Albatross Bay area in the Gulf of Carpentaria (GOC), Australia. Data from commercial logbooks were used to investigate historical changes in the banana prawn fishery in this and other regions of the Northern Prawn Fishery to infer the potential causes of this decline. Data since 1970 were analysed using: (1) the mapping of catch and effort; and (2) normalised rank order catch curves, to determine the distribution of catches across fishing areas. These analyses show that there has been a marked contraction of the Albatross Bay fishery over 33 years of fishing into the centre of a stable ‘hotspot’, suggesting a potential mechanism for the observed negative relationship between catchability and biomass. We believe this is the first observation of a Peneaus prawn fishing ground contracting as biomass declines, supporting the view that the contraction of an area occupied by a stock as biomass declines, is a generalised phenomena observed widely across fisheries resources and not a dynamic confined to certain finfish and molluscs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: 2008 CSIRO
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