A discussion paper release by DPIRD this afternoon calls into question the resilience of crab breeding stocks under current management arrangements and highlights an urgent need to better protect breeding stock.
Recreational fishing surveys since 2011 have clearly shown the blue swimmer crab is far and away the most caught species by fishers around Western Australia.
Particular concerns focus on increasing the protection for mated, pre-spawn female crabs which become highly vulnerable to capture in late autumn, winter and spring.
Recfishwest has held similar concerns for over a decade.
The Department have presented the following options for consideration:
1. Male-only fishery
2. Increase in the Minimum Legal Size (MLS)
3. Reducing fishing effort for all sectors when female crabs are vulnerable to capture
4. Patchwork closures for where female crabs aggregate
5. Broad-scale area closures when females are more vulnerable to capture
Attention is being focussed across the entire resource to ensure all areas of breeding stock vulnerability are addressed and includes all estuaries and ocean fishing for crabs from Perth to Geographe Bay.
In weighing up the options, the Department has identified broad scale seasonal closures (May to Nov) as the most balanced option to achieve the desired objective.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to put forward the community’s views.
Once we have fully digested the discussion paper, we will publish a short online survey, summarising the options and seeking your feedback.
Given that these fisheries account for around 90% of the state’s recreational crab catch, we urge you to have your say.
See the discussion paper summary here: http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/…/public_comme…/fmp288-summary.pdf