Project number: 2023-109
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $1,103,000.00
Principal Investigator: Rachel King
Organisation: Australian Council of Prawn Fisheries Ltd (ACPF)
Project start/end date: 26 May 2024 - 30 Jul 2026


Australia's commitment to 30% of marine protected area by 2030 in response to global concern about ocean health has focussed scrutiny directly on Australia's commercial net fishing sector. The handling of the Macquarie Island Marine Park announcement followed by the closure of gill net fishing in Qld in 2023 and marine protection proposals in WA have all challenged the commercial fishing sector's reliance on objective, risk based, scientific fisheries management and resource allocation. The focus on the commercial fishing sector appears incongruous to Australia’s effectiveness addressing greater impacts on coastal and marine health as identified in the five yearly Statement of Environment reports.

Australia's prawn trawl sector must continue its front-footed environmental stewardship actions to address Net Zero targets and the proposed Nature Positive Act. The ACPF must now build on its transparent community engagement activity with further investment as evidence of the sector's priorities. The ACPF's concerted community engagement activity commenced under FRDC Project 2018/172 and continued under the ACPF's 2021-2026 Community Engagement Plan. The sector must continue to actively reduce trawl impact at the same time as demonstrate its outstanding sustainability credentials as a food supplier.

The project invests within the scope of the FRDC's Environment Program with delivery into Communities, People, Adoption and Industry Programs. The project delivers on the following ACPF RD&E strategic activities against ACPF's Strategic Goals:

Strategic activity: Reduce impacts of fishing on bycatch and the marine environment (and continue to identify environmental risks to natural resource access). ACPF + cross-jurisdiction. (Delivering against Goal 1: Sustainability; Ecological. Goal 2: Stewardship marine resources. Goal 5: Society and Consumers trust, respect and value.)

Strategic activity: Co-investment opportunities in ecosystem health, climate change, carbon footprint. (Delivering against Goal 2: Stewardship of marine and aquatic environments)

Strategic activity: Best practice/Responsible fishing practices communication. (Delivering against Goal 2: Stewardship of marine and aquatic environments)

Strategic activity: Sustainability (Ecological & Economic) reporting. (Delivering against Goal 1: Sustainability; Ecological. Goal 2: Stewardship marine resources and aquatic environments.)

Strategic activity: Profile RD&E addressing social licence risks. (Delivering against Goal 1: Sustainability; Social. Goal 2: Stewardship marine resources and aquatic environments. Goal 3. A culture that is inclusive and forward thinking. Goal 4. Fair, equitable and secure access. Goal 5: Society and Consumers trust, respect and value.)

The project proposes to collate baseline data, invests in trawl impact RD&E, invests in nature positive initiatives across the environment metrics of the ESG framework and communicates all in a way that engages identified audiences.

The project will contain subprojects which will be identified and scoped in line with the overarching project strategy. Applications for subprojects will be sought using a range of mechanisms - competitive applications, direct or select tender as recommended by the project's steering committee (industry representatives, FRDC, an eNGO and a technical expert). Subprojects seeking national funding must demonstrate Return on Investment to a significant proportion of the sector. Subprojects will be contracted by the ACPF and report deliverables to the FRDC.

Co-investment will be sought from stakeholder partners and/or made by the project into externally managed projects.


1. Australian wild prawn sector is Ecologically, Economically and Socially sustainable through pursuing low impact, fuel efficient and financially viable prawn trawl gear technology
2. Australian wild prawn sector plays a critical lead role in the stewardship of our marine resources seeking partnership with stakeholders
3. Through strategic co-investment to address threats on the horizon, the Australian wild prawn sector invests in new innovation that enables fair, equitable and secure access to marine resources
4. Australian society and consumers trust, respect and value the Australian wild prawn sector and its product achieved via its stewardship
5. The Australian wild prawn sector's people are equipped to adapt to climate challenges and the environmental performance standards required of all marine users

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