App helps track prawn project

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Swan River - Su­sanne Reilly

FOR­MER Vic­to­ria Park res­i­dent Will Smith­wick and Kevin Reid be­gan prawn­ing in the early 1980s, but a lot has changed since then.

The two recre­ational prawn­ers have been in­stru­men­tal in the Swan River Trust’s prawn re­stock­ing pro­gram, which has in­cluded the re­cent launch of Prawn Watch, an app to help recre­ational fish­ers add their catch in­for­ma­tion to data col­lected by sci­en­tists.

“The project has al­ready re­leased more than 635,000 ju­ve­nile western school prawns into th­ese rivers and will in­ves­ti­gate the dis­tri­bu­tion of prawns and the fac­tors lim­it­ing the prawn stock,” Fish­eries Min­is­ter Ken Bas­ton said.

“This app will help recre­ational fish­ers add their catch in­for- ma­tion to data col­lected by sci­en­tists to help un­lock the mys­ter­ies of Perth’s river prawns.”

In June last year, WA sci­en­tists cel­e­brated a world-first ac­com­plish­ment in suc­cess­fully cul­tur­ing western school prawns, which was the first step in the re­stock­ing pro­gram.

Mr Smith­wick and Mr Reid, who en­joy rem­i­nisc­ing on nights spent prawn­ing in the past, said they had learned a lot about the river dur­ing the pro­gram.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Al­bert Ja­cob said prawn­ing on the Swan and Can­ning rivers was once a popular pas­time, but there had been a a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in prawn num­bers since the 1950s.

The re­stock­ing pro­gram is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Swan River Trust, Chal­lenger In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy and Mur­doch Univer­sity and is man­aged by the WA Fish Foun­da­tion.

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