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Spencer Gulf and West Coast prawn fishermen to expect good prices

Big returns for Christmas prawn catch

Spencer Gulf and West Coast king prawn fishers will bring in a lower catch but are expecting a higher return as pre-Christmas fishing is expected to wrap up by this weekend.

Spencer Gulf king prawn fishers have been out on the water since November 30 on the pre-Christmas fishing trip and are expected to bring in the remaining 220 tonnes from the 375 tonne quota set from the stock assessment in early November.

Spencer Gulf and West Coast Prawn Fishermen's Association executive officer Kelly Pyke-Tape said the 375 tonne cap was a little down from the 450 tonne cap from 2020, which was believed to be due to environmental factors.

"The water temperature is still pretty cold...it feels like it hasn't warmed up yet and the prawns prefer the warmer temperatures," she said.

A number of areas across the Spencer Gulf have been closed to fishing for 2021, and the management committee put in place a minimum catch of 300kg per vessel per night to further protect the fishing grounds.

Ms Pyke-Tape said while the catch was smaller compared to last year, fishermen were looking for a good return with higher prices shaping up for Christmas sales.

"Prices are really good this year so the fishermen are quite pleased, particularly on the West Coast as they are getting good sized fish and good prices.

Ms Pyke-Tape said the three West Coast prawn fishing boats wrapped up their fishing trip on Tuesday morning, catching seven tonnes between them, while the 38 of the 39 Spencer Gulf boats that went out for the pre-Christmas trip were not expected to continue fishing past Saturday.

Fresh Fish Place owner Craig McCathie said there was less prawn catches across Australia, including in Spencer Gulf and the Gulf of Carpentaria have seen the price of prawns increase.

He said Christmas retail prices were likely to be around $35/kg for a medium-size new season cooked local prawns and up to $45/kg for the medium/large size prawns.

"We've got good demand at the moment but we do see demand increase sharply in the last two weeks before Christmas," he said.

"An increase of a large amount will surely have an effect on demand."

The association has been active in promoting the Spencer Gulf King Prawns brand in the lead up to Christmas, especially with prawns becoming a key part of the Australian Christmas lunch table.

Ms Pyke-Tape said the association was always busy promoting its wild caught prawns across Australia.

"We are part of a campaign promoting Australian prawns and on a second level want to promote our fresh, wild caught prawns," she said.

Meanwhile the Spencer Gulf prawn fishery has recently been recertified as a sustainable fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council, which it has been accredited as since 2011.

Ms Pyke-Tape said this further reiterated the Spencer Gulf king prawns were not just high quality, but also sustainably harvested.

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This story Big returns for Christmas prawn catch first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.