Crab fishery changes – a step towards bigger, better crabs

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland has welcomed today’s announcement by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly to introduce measures to give the female blue swimmer crab breeding stock in Perth and the South West more protection.

Dr Rowland said: “Recfishwest have been calling for changes to management arrangements in this fishery for over a decade and today’s announcement will ensure more protection is given to the female crab breeding stock when highly vulnerable to capture in late autumn, winter and spring. This is a critical change for the sustainability of the resource and the future of the fishery.”

The Minister’s announcement came after Recfishwest negotiated with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and the Southern Seafood Producers WA (SSPWA) to present a joint recommendation to the Minister and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

Following the original consultation period, DPIRD proposed a broad-scale five-month closure from the Swan/Canning River to Geographe Bay. Recfishwest, WAFIC and the SSPWA believed a better management outcome could be achieved through a joint approach.

“We all agreed that the crabs required better management to protect their sustainability,” said Dr Rowland. “And through some constructive negotiations with our commercial fishing colleagues we were able to reach a point of agreement that has secured the best outcome for West Aussie recreational fishers, given the very real sustainability issues the fishery was facing.

“We are pleased the Minister has taken on board our recommendations from this unified approach between the sectors.”

Dr Rowland said a voluntary buy-back scheme announced by the Minister, which will see the “permanent closure” of some commercial fishing in the lower west coast oceanic crab fisheries, was pivotal in protecting crab breeding stocks and underpinning the future direction of the fishery.

“Fisheries management can be very complex, however, the simple fact is it makes no sense to target female crabs during the spring spawning season. This package strikes a good balance and we look forward to its implementation as soon as possible,” he said.


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