With a variety of species on offer in its wide array of aquatic environments, the coastal town of Mandurah, has a little bit of something for everyone. Read what Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan has to say about fishing in Mandurah in this week’s edition of Scott’s Spots.
We’ve received some great feedback from you about the new crab management changes announced this week, along with a number of questions you’ve had. Here’s answers to some of those questions – don’t hesitate to contact us if there’s anything else you want to know or have any feedback for us. Continue reading “Crab changes: Your questions answered”
The new management changes for blue swimmer crabs in Perth and the South West will result in more protection for the female crab breeding stock will ensure bigger, better crabs in the near future.
- Permanent removal of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and from Mandurah to Bunbury through a voluntary buy-back scheme will ensure more protection for the female crab breeding stock and more crabs and bigger crabs to fish for.
- The buy-back of commercial fishing licences in Cockburn Sound opens the real possibility for recreational crab fishing in the Sound.
- Introduction of a three-month seasonal closure – September 1 to November 30 – in all waters from the Swan and Canning Rivers (inclusive) to 15km south of Bunbury.
See our map below to show you what the changes mean for you in your favourite crabbing locations.
Recfishwest joined the Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly in Mandurah and colleagues from the commercial fishing sector to announce a series of changes that represent a watershed moment in the management of the crab fisheries in Perth and the South West.
The significant reform will offer much more protection for the female crab breeding stock and secure a more resilient recreational crab fishery with more, bigger crabs and a better crabbing experience for everyone.
Through some constructive negotiations with the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC), the Southern Seafood Producers WA (SSPWA), we reached a point of agreement that has secured the best outcome for recreational fishers given the very real sustainability issues the fishery was facing.
Taking on board the views of nearly 4,000 recreational fishers who responded to our survey on the initial discussion paper, we put forward 10 proposed management changes to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in November last year.
The package announced by the Minister today met eight out of 10 of our recommendations – a great result, particularly in the context of what had been proposed.
A stark alternative
But before we got there, we were potentially looking down the barrel of a broad-scale five month closure from the Swan/Canning to Geographe Bay (inclusive) and a night curfew on crab fishing between 11pm and 4am.
This blunt proposal by DPIRD galvanized ourselves, WAFIC and the SSPWA to sit down and hammer out a joint response which would ensure we could get a sensible, better outcome by working together.
Had we ended up in a Mexican stand-off with the commercial sector and DPIRD, we could have seen the process painfully drag out – possibly for years – which would have been in no one’s interests and yet again delayed vital management intervention.
Instead, we arrived at the following positive outcomes for the recreational fishing community:
- A buy-back of commercial fishing licences from oceanic crab fisheries in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and from Mandurah to Bunbury, leading to their permanent closure and with an indication from the Minister that this will happen swiftly as a matter of priority.
- The buy-back opens the door to the very real possibility of Cockburn Sound opening for recreational crab fishing in the near future.
- A mixture of management measures introduced that will, within near future, result in better crabbing and bigger crabs and help to establish the Swan/Canning system as a trophy crab fishery right on Perth’s doorstep.
- The blunt flat five-month closure across the resource and a night-time crab fishing curfew was averted avoiding impact on local businesses in Geographe Bay and Mandurah that benefit from crab fishers flocking to town. Instead, a three-month September to November closure has been introduced, excluding Geographe Bay which will remain open all year-round.
- In Geographe Bay, a new limit of five female crabs within the bag limit of ten will ensure more female crabs remain in the system leading to bigger crabs and better crabbing in the near future.
Protecting a prized part of the WA lifestyle
Increasing pressure on Perth and South West crab stocks has taken its toll in recent years leading to an ongoing decline in the number of size crabs.
The writing has clearly been on the wall for some time and those of you who completed our survey on the future of the resource also backed our message loud and clear: the sustainability of the crabs must come first.
Negotiating the best outcome for our community
We will always do whatever it takes to ensure the best outcome for our members and our community. Delivering on that commitment was/is paramount for us for such an iconic fishery as this. That meant doing the wise and mature thing and working with our colleagues in the commercial sector to achieve the best outcome.
In the complex world of fisheries management, with the often fiercely competing interests of different sectors, being able to negotiate an outcome like this was a watershed moment.
Recfishwest is looking forward to seeing the flow-on effects of these management changes in the near future, resulting in many more people across the board enjoying better crabbing and catching bigger, better quality crabs.
A lengthy winter and lower than average water temperature is predicted to cause a slow start to Crabbing this season. The iconic Mandurah crab fishery opened on November 1st, however fishers are not expected to encounter good numbers of legal sized crabs for at least another month.
It is important to recognise that many crabs will still currently be undersize, and that your crabbing efforts may be better spent later in the season. Crabs grow rapidly as water temperatures warm up in late December and January and this is considered the best time to fish for crabs. Whenever you go crabbing remember to always carry a crab gauge and measure the crabs correctly from point to point on the carapace (body) to ensure they are larger than the minimum legal size of 127mm.
Be sure to abide by the personal bag limit of 10 and boat limit of 20 crabs, and a maximum of 10 pots is allowed per person/boat. A Recreational Boat Fishing Licence is required if taking or transporting crabs by boat.
New rules regarding the immediate release of protected crabs are now in effect, meaning that undersize and berried (egg-carrying) crabs must be released as soon as they are caught before resuming fishing. It is also important to know that uncooked crabs MUST be maintained whole and not dissected or altered in any form prior to preparation for consumption.
Lastly, it is always important to be mindful in your fishing activities and respect the environment in which you are accessing. The surrounding environment adjacent to crab habitat is also important for a host of other fish, invertebrate and bird species and there are many environmental groups actively working at restoring much of the riparian vegetation and coastal plants that help to maintain the health and function of our estuaries.
Groups like the Peel Harvey Catchment Council are actively involved in some of these efforts and we urge fishers to think before you step, and use designated access points to your fishing grounds in order to preserve the delicate plants that are invaluable to improving the fishing environment.