Gulf freshwater flows essential for prawns

2 September 2020

As opportunities to develop the water resources of Australia’s north continue to be investigated, a new paper from Hub researchers shows how river flows are critical to the productivity of the Gulf of Carpentaria’s banana prawn fishery.

Changes in freshwater flows due to water extraction from the Gilbert, Mitchell and Flinders Rivers will affect the productivity of the prawn fishery, according to research published in Ecosphere.

 

Prawn catch

 

Based on 28 years of data, PhD student Andrew Broadley modelled future scenarios of how water extraction would affect the prawn catch. He found that water extraction during low-flow years will have the greatest impact on the prawn fishery, because of the loss of the freshwater ‘cue’ for prawns to emigrate from estuaries into coastal waters.

 

 

Karumba flood image

 

Protecting low-level flows will be essential to ensure sustained fishery yields. This research is part a larger project on the links between Gulf rivers and coastal productivity, led by Professor Michele Burford of Griffith University.

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