Have your Say on Crabs

Media release 29 October 2018

 Crabbing Review to Look After South West Crabs

  • Management needed for better protection of female crabs
  • Perth to Geographe Bay
  • Community to have their say

Recreational fishing surveys since 2011 have consistently shown Blue Swimmer Crabs are far and away the most caught species by fishers around Western Australia.

A discussion paper released by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) on October 25th has called into question the suitability of current management arrangements for Blue Swimmer Crabs on the lower West Coast and highlighted an urgent need to better protect breeding stocks.

The discussion paper highlights a particular concern about the current level of protection provided to mated, pre-spawn female crabs which become highly vulnerable to capture in late autumn, winter and spring. Recfishwest has voiced concerns about the level of protection provided to mated pre-spawn crabs for over a decade.

DPIRD’s discussion paper has considered the following five options for better protecting crab breeding stocks on the lower west coast: :

  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

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said attention is being focused across the entire lower west coast crab 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.

“Our priority here are the crabs and looking after important breeding stock,” Dr Rowland said.

“Blue Swimmer Crabs are the most caught species in WA by rec fishers, so it’s important to balance protection of the stock with great community fishing experiences with access to high abundances of crabs.”

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.

Recfishwest have developed an online survey asking people how they want their crab fisheries managed and protected into the future and we will continue to represent the communities views  about how they want this important public resource managed.

Given that these fisheries account for around 90% of the state’s recreational crab catch, we urge you to have your say.

Read the Department’s Discussion Paper here.