FACTS
NOT FICTION

Australian prawn Farming.

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Facts about Australian Farmed Prawns

Here we have put together some interesting facts about farmed prawns and prawn farming in Australia. 

For those interested in:

  • Aquaculture Production Reports,
  • Trade Data for prawns and Trade Databases,
  • Aquaculture Outlook 2021 Report
click here and “jump” straight to the “Reports” section at the bottom of this page.
Did you know illustration
Female prawns grow faster and larger than males.
A Female prawn can produce up to 1 million eggs per spawn.
A prawns heart is in its head.
There are over 2000 species of prawns worldwide but only 5 are farmed.
Prawns are an excellent source of protein, are rich in selenium, one of the most effective antioxidants at maintaining healthy cells and high in Zinc, which is important to develop a healthy immune system.
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Facts About...

Super Prawns

Is eating prawns good for you?

Super Prawns

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Protecting Marine Plants

What's with marine plants?

Protecting Marine Plants

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Australian Prawn Farming

What does it mean?

Australian Prawn Farming

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Biosecurity

What's with critical disease threat?

Biosecurity

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Farmed Prawn Species

What species are suitable for farming?

Farmed Prawn Species

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Inside Prawn Ponds

What's going on inside?

Inside Prawn Ponds

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Sustainable Farming

What's with water quality and treatment?

Sustainable Farming

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Reports & Data

Production, Outlook, Trade Data

Reports & Data

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Super Prawns

Is eating prawns good for you?

Yes, it certainly is. Did you know that Australian farmed prawns are a good source of Protein, Omega 3, Copper and a source of Selenium?

Just 100 grams of farmed black tiger prawns contain as much omega 3 as 1000 grams of chicken breast.

For more information about ‘super seafood’, see “What’s in Australian seafood”, an initiative by the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre.

FuLL nutritional information:

Need some recipes?
We have 100+ delicious Australian Prawn recipes ready for you.

Australian Prawn Farming

Prawn Farming in Australia

Aquaculture prawn farming began in the 1980’s with most farms being located on flat land adjacent to sea water sources, such as tidal rivers or creeks.

Prawn farms require temperatures above 25º C during productions season; therefore currently 95% of farms are located in Queensland and 5% in NSW.

Total land currently used for production is in excess of 900 hectares and clusters of farms can be found on the Logan River, Mackay, Bundaberg, Townsville, Cairns and Yamba NSW. Some of the biggest farms produces prawns all year round whilst the other farms produce one crop per annum and harvesting is usually completed by the end of April each year.

It takes approximately 6 months for prawns to grow to harvesting size and most of the prawns are sold domestically in Australia. Processing is carried out as soon as harvested with most farms having their own production facilities that include grading, cooking, packaging and freezing.

Prawn farming is Queensland’s largest aquaculture sector providing hundreds of FTEs employment mostly in rural communities.

What does it mean being a Prawn Farmer?

Being a farmer is high risk, capital-intensive, site specific and requires technical expertise. You must be prepared to work long hours and must be able to understand and manage sudden changes in conditions that can occur at any hour of the day or night. Managers must have a firm hand on risk management, marketing and liaison with various government bodies.

Watch the team from Australian Prawn Farms in North Queensland 

See how it all started, how a successful prawn farm operates and what it takes to grow these beautiful, delicious Australian farmed prawns we all enjoy.

Invest or Start a Prawn Farm

Queensland is an ideal location for developing your aquaculture business and the AFPA is a key contact for new farmers, investors and businesses looking to get involved in Queensland prawn farming. As a starting point, follow the link above. This guide will help potential business owners clearly understand the commitments and requirements involved in starting an aquaculture business in Queensland.

Farmed Prawn Species

Prawn Species farmed are currently the black tiger prawn Penaeus monodon and the banana prawn Fenneropenaeus merguiensis

The kurama prawn Penaeus japonicas has been farmed in the past.

Farmed Banana Prawn - Fenneropenaeus merguiensis
Banana Prawn (Fenneropenaeus merguiensis)
Black Tiger Prawn (Penaeus monodon)

Sustainable Farming

1. Water Quality in Australia

70% of current Australian farmed prawn production occurs adjacent to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The prawn farming industry in the Great Barrier Reef Region is a highly profitable, but small agriculture sector, which has potential to expand considerably without impacting on coastal water quality.

It is well known that the Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Protected icon.

APFA acknowledges that the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is affected by material originating from a range of human activities, both on the land and in the water, such as agriculture, urban and industrial development. The 2014 Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment and Program Outlook Report states that the reef is an icon under pressure from elevated concentrations of suspended sediments, excess nutrient and pesticides.

Whilst prawn farming is a very small contributor to these loads (just 0.16% of Nitrogen, .08% of Phosphorus, 0.000006% of solids and no pesticides) we recognise that it is incumbent on all to contribute to preserving this precious resource.

GBR Research Report

Industries, Land Use and Water Quality in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area. Jump straight to page 26/27 to read how the prawn industry contributes to the water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

2. Water Treatment

Waters released from a prawn pond may contain nutrients, algae and clay particles which occur naturally in ocean waters.

Most Australian prawn farms allocate up to 30% of their productive land for settlement systems.   These systems reduce suspended solids (particulate matter, organic material, sediment) and dissolved nutrients in the effluent before released back into an estuary. 

A seven year multidisciplinary study on the environmental management of prawn farming was conducted (1995-2002). The study integrated the research skills of 30 scientists from several institutions including:

  • CSIRO,
  • Australian Institute of Marine Science,
  • University of Queensland,
  • Queensland Department of Environment Protection Authority,
  • Griffith University,
  • University of Sydney,
  • University of Technology,
  • Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, Victoria and the
  • University of Maryland USA.

Studies focused on the largest prawn farms in Queensland and New South Wales throughout their production cycle and encompassed a range of latitudes, discharge environments (eg tidal creeks and estuaries) and both flow through and recirculating water management systems and produced 42 peer reviewed research papers.

Key elements of the studies were:

  • prawn pond sediment and nutrient processes,
  • composition of prawn pond discharges,
  • discharge treatment systems and environmental management,
  • receiving waters – assimilation and monitoring,
  • synthesis of pond processes and environmental management and
  • aquaculture land use planning.

Key outputs of these studies were:

  • prawn pond sediment and nutrient processes rigorously quantified and modelled,
  • pond discharge composition rigorously quantified,
  • published the first synthesis of the dominant ecological processes in ponds and adjacent coastal environments,
  • in collaboration with industry – designed and implemented cost-effective treatment system based on sedimentation processes.

Many Australian farms recirculate water as routine practice. Partial recirculation helps minimise fluctuations in water quality (salinity, turbidity, nutrient load) and reduces the risk of introducing pathogens from the wild. However partial recirculation is not suited to all farms. Farms have variable requirements depending on a range of factors including quality of intake water, location in the catchment, availability of land, rainfall and access to tidal waters.

CSIRO Research Summary

Environmental management in prawn farming in Queensland.

Protecting Marine Plants

Under state laws, marine plants are totally protected.

This includes all species of mangrove, seagrass and seaweed. If any plants are approved to be removed, they can only be removed after investigation by authorities who generally only allow removal conditional on appropriate mitigation. In the process of making that decision, authorities are required by law to consult with all interested members of the community – this includes conservation groups, scientists, recreational and commercial fishing interests.

It should be noted that large scale mangrove destruction does not occur on Australian prawn farms.

Seagrass
Seagrass

Biosecurity

Australian prawn farmers produce native species. Exotic pests are the most critical disease threat to Australia’s prawn producers.

APFA do not want to stop prawn imports. However, Australia’s prawn farming industry does not support the importation of uncooked prawn for human consumption or bait from countries which cannot demonstrate freedom from OIE-listed diseases and calls for all uncooked prawns to be cooked before crossing Australia’s border – thereby still allowing trade while protecting Australia’s iconic “Aussie prawns”,  Australian seafood and our beautiful waterways.

Read our submission to the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environments on why we support cooking prawns before crossing Australia’s border.

Latest Prawn Import Requirements

Summary of enhanced import conditions for prawns and prawn products for human consumption.

Inside Prawn Ponds

What’s going on inside prawn ponds?

With the support of Australian prawn farmers, scientists have studied the environment of prawn ponds and the effects of pond water discharges. The knowledge is helping farmers to improve pond management and is guiding the sustainable growth of prawn-farming in Australia.

Learn what’s going on inside prawn ponds starting with early growth stage, advanced growth stage, lining ponds, settling time followed by wastewater reuse and active treatment up to “going downstream” from farm discharge.

Inside Prawn Ponds

What's going on inside prawn ponds?