Schools out in the Swan

Fisheries Minister Ken Baston (right) and Will Smithwick, who has been prawning in the Swan River for more than 30 years.
Fisheries Minister Ken Baston (right) and Will Smithwick, who has been prawning in the Swan River for more than 30 years.

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland said West Australians would reap the rewards of the project as early as next summer because young prawns had been released throughout Perth’s river system, from Claremont to Canning Bridge.

‘The prawn restocking project is an excellent example of the recreational fishing licence fees working towards managing and improving recreational fishing experiences,’ Dr Rowland said.

‘So far more than $5 million has been invested into Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund projects since the fund was launched in 2010.’

Challenger Institute of Technology director Greg Jenkins said his team at the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research had developed ground-breaking techniques to cultivate the western school prawn.

The system allows the females to spawn naturally and the hatched juveniles to grow to a size where they could bury themselves in the riverbed to ensure the best chance of survival.

The western school prawn lives for two years and reaches maturity at one year, growing to about 85 millimetres.

The grey coloured prawn is distributed throughout the Indo-Pacific region but only exists below the 31st parallel in WA.

Dr Rowland hoped the initiative would help people reconnect with Perth’s river system.

‘We want people to reconnect with the Swan and Canning rivers, which are arguably the most important estuary systems for recreational fishing in WA,’ he said

‘And we are excited to see licence money going back into recreational fishing to produce tangible benefits for the community.’

The Swan River Trust, Murdoch University, Challenger Institute of Technology and the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund all worked on the project that was supported by Recfishwest and the WA Department of Fisheries.