Metanephrops velutinus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Malacostraca Decapoda Nephropidae

Scientific Name: Metanephrops velutinus Chan & Yu, 1991
Common Name(s):
English Velvet Lobster, Velvet Scampi
Metanephrops andamanicus Wood-Mason, 1892

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2009-12-03
Assessor(s): Wahle, R., Butler, M., Cockcroft, A., MacDiarmid, A. & Chan, T.Y.
Reviewer(s): Collen, B., Livingstone, S. & Richman, N.
Contributor(s): Batchelor, A., De Silva, R., Dyer, E., Kasthala, G., Lutz, M.L., McGuinness, S., Milligan, H.T., Soulsby, A.-M. & Whitton, F.
Metanephrops velutinus has  been assessed as Least Concern. Although this species is possibly over-fished within part if it range, this is not believed to be impacting the global population at the present time. Continued monitoring of the abundance of this species is needed to ensure significant declines in the global stock, are not triggered.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs from the Phillippines down to eastern Indonesia (including the Kai and Tanimbar Islands) and Australia. In Australia it is found on the northeast coast of Queensland, and from the northwest coast of Western Australia south to the Great Australian Bight (Chan 1997, Poore 2004). Specimens were previously mistaken for M. andamanicus, which has a more westerly distribution in Indonesia to the Indian Ocean (Chan and Yu 1991).
Countries occurrence:
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia); Indonesia (Maluku, Papua, Sulawesi); Papua New Guinea (Papua New Guinea (main island group)); Philippines
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Indian Ocean – eastern; Pacific – western central
Additional data:
Lower depth limit (metres):700
Upper depth limit (metres):240
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This is one of the most abundant lobster species off the northwest coast of Australia (Poore 2004).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species occurs at depths of 240-700 m, and is most common at 350-450 m (Holthuis 1991). It makes deep burrows in soft sediment (Wallner and Phillips 1995). Furthermore, this species recruits to the fishery at + 4 years and can live up to 12 years (Wallner and Phillips 1995).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species contributes the majority of the catch to the North West Slope Trawl Fishery (NWSTF) off the coast of Australia (Poore 2004). It has been fished here since 1985 (Chan and Yu 1991). There is also the potential for commercial exploitation in the Phillippines (Chan 1998).

Effort (hours trawled) in the NWSTF increased in the first three years (1985 - 1988). It declined in the mid-1990s before increasing in 2000-2002, although to less than 50% of peak levels (AFMA 2004). During this time catches of all scampi (of which this species is the most frequently caught) fluctuated, but broadly showed a decline from 1985 to low catches throughout the 1990s, before a resurgence in 2000 - 2002 (AFMA 2004). Effort has mainly switched from deep water prawns to scampi in recent years, after reduced demand in European export markets. In 2005-2006 more than 95% of the catch volume in the fishery was scampi, but in the following two years this was reduced to 33% (2006-07) and 19% (2007-08) as a result of targeted fishing for finfish (Sampaklis et al. 2009).

A 2008 Fishery Status Report was inconclusive as to whether this species was overfished; there were no estimates of biomass and catch per unit effort due to confidentiality (Sampaklis et al. 2009).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Non-selective exploitation, e.g. trawling, could lower the reproductive potential of the population to the point where recruitment is affected. This species has a low fecundity (like metanephropids), and females exhibit higher catchability after spawning which has in the past (Oct 1987) skewed sex ratios (Wallner and Phillips 1995). Trawling may also indirectly impact the larval and juvenile phases, which co-inhabit similar habitats to adults, through burrow destruction or removal of food species (Wallner and Phillips 1995).

Catch per unit effort (CPUE) in a small productive fishing ground – where this species was dominant – showed initial rapid declines (from 1984 when surplus standing stock was removed), before stabilizing at low levels by the end of 1989 (Wallner and Phillips 1995). Short-term increases over this period were apparently the result of reduced fishing effort, suggesting that this species may recover quicker than expected.

Anecdotal evidence from the industry suggested that the average size of Australian scampi had declined since the opening of the fishery; this contradicts a 2005 stock assessment (Lynch and Garvey 2005) which found no significant change in length-frequency distribution of this species. The 2005 assessment also showed a decline in CPUE (Lynch and Garvey 2005). This has not been updated as no assessment was conducted in 2008, and despite catch rates declining further there are no biomass estimates and the report concluded that "the overfishing status for scampi remains uncertain" (Sampaklis et al. 2008).

However, although this species may be overfished within the Australian part of it s range, there is no evidence for it being impacted upon by any threats on a global level (M.J. Butler, A.C. Cockcroft, A.B. MacDiarmid and R.A. Wahle pers. comm. 2008).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The primary fishery for this species, the North West Slope trawl Fishery (NWSTF, which provides approximately 70% of Australia's scampi production) introduced permits in 1996 to limit entry after substantial declines in catch rates of target species (scampi and deep water prawns). AFMA (the Australian Fisheries Management Authority) issued a direction banning fishing in the northeast of the fishery for two years, in order to amend boundaries. This is likely to further impact populations of this species as fishing is targeted back towards scampi (Sampaklis et al. 2009). Monitoring of the abudance of this species is needed to ensure stock stability.

Citation: Wahle, R., Butler, M., Cockcroft, A., MacDiarmid, A. & Chan, T.Y. 2011. Metanephrops velutinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T170064A6703608. . Downloaded on 23 June 2018.
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