This paper investigates the stock-recruitment and equilibrium yield dynamics for the two species of tiger prawns (Penaeus esculentus and Penaeus semisulcatus) in Australia's most productive prawn fishery: the Northern Prawn Fishery. Commercial trawl logbooks for 1970-93 and research surveys are used to develop population models for these prawns. A population model that incorporates continuous recruitment is developed. Annual spawning stock and recruitment indices are then estmited from the population model. Spawning stock indices represent the abundance of female prawns that are likely to spawn; recruitment indices represent the abundance of all prawns less than a certain size. The relationship between spawning stock and subsequent recruitment (SRR), between recruitment and subsequent spawning stock (RSR), and between recruitment and commercial catch were estimated through maximum-likelihood models that incorporated autoregressive terms. Yield as a function of fishing effort was estimated by constraining to equilibrium the SRR and RSR. The resulting production model was then used to determine maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and its corresponding fishing effort (fMSY). Long-term yield estimates for the two tiger prawn species range between 3700 and 5300 t. The fishing effort at present is close to the level that should produce MSY for both species of tiger prawns. However, current landings, recruitment and spawning stock are below the equilibrium values predicted by the models. This may be because of uncertainity of fishing effort, unreliable catch statistics, or simplistic assumtions about structure. Although our predictions of tiger prawn yields are uncertain, management will soon have to consider new measures to counteract the effects of future increases in fishing effort.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science