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Find out more about prawns, crustaceans from the order Decapoda, meaning 'ten-legged'. Find out which prawns are sustainable and where to buy sustainable prawns.

What is a prawn?

Prawns are crustaceans from the order Decapoda, meaning 'ten-legged' (or technically, 'ten-footed'). Their sweet taste and firm texture make them ideal for many dishes, and they are sold fresh or frozen, raw or cooked. 

Common wild-caught species in Australia include banana prawns (red or white), tiger prawns (brown or grooved), king prawns (eastern and western), and endeavour prawns (blue or red). Farmed species include black tiger prawns and vannamei prawns. 

Prawn facts

  • You can easily tell their sex: Flip your prawn over onto its back. If it’s a female you’ll see a plate on their tummy called a theylecum. Whereas, a male has two small protruding pieces of tissue called petasma.
  • They go from ocean to river to ocean: Prawns are born in the open ocean; they then return to the same estuary or river their ancestors have used for hundreds of years. In the estuaries and river systems, they eat a variety of plants and animals and grow to become adults before returning to the open ocean.  
  • They grow up fast: When prawns are born they’re a mere spec to the eye – around one millimetre in size. At three weeks of age, they’ll grow to be about the size of one grain of rice, and double that size when they’re around five weeks old.
  • They die young: Wild prawns typically live for 14-18 months, and females can have babies from about 10 months of age. 

The above facts are courtesy of CSIRO

It's estimated Australians consume 40% of all prawns at Christmas, with around half of wild prawns in Australia certified as sustainable to the MSC standard.

Are prawns sustainable?

There is no such thing as a sustainable species of fish. Only sustainable populations of fish.

More than half of wild-caught prawns in Australia are now MSC certified sustainable.

This is important, as in many cases they are found in areas of particular ecological significance, and fishing methods must not damage the delicate environmental balance.

Where can I buy sustainable prawns?

Prawns carrying the MSC blue fish tick are certified sustainable.

MSC labelled prawns come from a wild-capture fishery that has been independently assessed to the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Companies using the blue fish tick all along the supply chain have been assessed to ensure products can be traced back to an MSC certified fishery.

Look for boxed prawns with the blue fish tick from brands including Skull Island Tiger Prawns, Spencer Gulf King Prawns, Shark Bay PrawnsRaptis Ocean Pearl Banana Prawns, Hanna V King Prawns, Karumba Banana Prawns, king prawns and tiger prawns.

You can also find wild banana prawns with the blue fish tick at Coles deli seafood counters.

Find out more about where to buy sustainable seafood.

Learn more about prawn fishing

Australia's prawn fisheries have developed a range of bycatch reduction devices to reduce the amount of other fish and marine species caught in prawn trawling nets, including turtle excluder devices (TEDs) which allow turtles, sharks and rays to safely escape from nets.   
Born Free, Caught Wild. The Northern Prawn Fishery

Top 20 delicious prawn recipes

Wild Chinese prawn toasts
Prawns
Wild Chinese prawn toasts
Prep time
10 mins
Cooking Time
10 mins
Wild prawn cocktail with a twist
Prawns
Wild prawn cocktail with a twist
Prep time
30 mins
Cooking Time
6 mins
Wild tiger prawn salad
Prawns
Wild tiger prawn salad
Prep time
60 mins
Cooking Time
6 mins
Nasi Goreng with wild prawns
Prawns
Nasi Goreng with wild prawns
Prep time
65 mins
Cooking Time
35 mins
Wild chargrilled Skull Island Tiger Prawns with chilli and garlic oil, avocado mousse and charred greens
Prawns
Wild chargrilled Skull Island Tiger Prawns with...
Prep time
10 mins
Cooking Time
2 mins
Wild piri piri prawns with mango and padrón peppers
Prawns
Wild piri piri prawns with mango and padrón...
Prep time
5 mins
Cooking Time
35 mins
Wild banana prawn bisque
Prawns
Wild banana prawn bisque
Prep time
0 mins
Cooking Time
60 mins
Tom Yum Kung with wild prawns and thai basil
Prawns
Tom Yum Kung with wild prawns and thai basil
Prep time
0 mins
Cooking Time
15 mins
Spring rolls with wild prawns
Prawns
Spring rolls with wild prawns
Prep time
20 mins
Cooking Time
15 mins
Wild Swinging Sixties prawn cocktail
Prawns
Wild Swinging Sixties prawn cocktail
Prep time
10 mins
Cooking Time
0 mins
Wild prawn larb
Prawns
Wild prawn larb
Prep time
0 mins
Cooking Time
30 mins
Gambas a la plancha with wild prawns
Prawns
Gambas a la plancha with wild prawns
Prep time
10 mins
Cooking Time
5 mins
Wild banana prawns chermoula with lemon and coconut tahini
Prawns
Wild banana prawns chermoula with lemon and...
Prep time
0 mins
Cooking Time
45 mins
Wild prawns from the barbie, two ways
Prawns
Wild prawns from the barbie, two ways
Prep time
10 mins
Cooking Time
20 mins
Fresh shrimp/prawn summer rolls
Prawns
Fresh shrimp/prawn summer rolls
Prep time
10 mins
Cooking Time
40 mins
Wild spicy prawn stir fry
Prawns
Wild spicy prawn stir fry
Prep time
10 mins
Cooking Time
10 mins
Wild prawn salad sandwiches
Prawns
Wild prawn salad sandwiches
Prep time
15 mins
Cooking Time
0 mins
Pad Thai with wild prawns
Prawns
Pad Thai with wild prawns
Prep time
15 mins
Cooking Time
15 mins
Wild garlic prawns recipe
Prawns
Wild garlic prawns recipe
Prep time
25 mins
Cooking Time
5 mins

Explore more sustainable fish to eat

Find more sustainable seafood species that are MSC certified in Australia and New Zealand.

Explore the sustainable seafood guide.

 

Sustainable seafood recipes

Sustainable seafood recipes

Chefs and seafood lovers from around the world share quick and tasty ways of cooking MSC certified seafood.

10 reasons to choose the blue fish tick

10 reasons to choose the blue fish tick

Choose seafood which helps to protect oceans, livelihoods and fish for the future.

Buy sustainable seafood

Buy sustainable seafood

Where to find the blue fish tick at supermarkets, fish shops and restaurants.