Prawn farming is an expanding, high-value primary industry in coastal areas of Australia. Currently there are approximately 500 ha of farm ponds. The majority of prawn farms are in Queensland, but there are also farms in NSW, NT and WA with plans for expansion of the industry in all these states. Current production is 2,200 t valued at $45M with predictions that the number of hectares of prawn ponds will double over the next decade.
The relatively small Australian prawn farming industry has developed in the wake of a very large, rapidly expanding prawn farming industry in Southeast Asia, South America and Central America where poor environmental management practices have caused widespread public concern. In comparison to these countries, the high level of community awareness and strict environmental regulations in Australia has ensured that the industry has developed under close scrutiny of environmental regulators and other government agencies. However, as the industry has developed, the need for scientifically rigorous information on the environmental management of prawn farming has emerged. Accordingly, the Australian prawn framing industry, environmental regulators and marine research community have devoted a high level of resources, relative to the size and value of the industry, to collaborative scientific research on the environmental management of prawn farming.
The focus of the environmental management research has been principally determined by the priorities identified by key stakeholders. The priority issues addressed in this study were first identified in a series of regional workshops held in Cairns, Townsville and Brisbane in 1996. The workshop participants included representatives from industry, research, and government primary industry and environmental protection agencies. The outcome of these workshops was the development of a nationally coordinated study of the environmental management of prawn farming in Australia.
Keywords: Nutrient budget; total suspended solids; total nitrogen, total phosphorus, settlement ponds, environment.