Crab Changes: Your Questions Answered

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.

Q. I fish in the Peel-Harvey region, how’s it going to affect me?
A. The seasonal closure will be extended by a month and will now run from 1 September to 30 November, but with no changes to the bag limit of 10 and boat limit of 20. These changes should ensure the crabs have longer to grow and moult before they are able to be caught. This means there will be more size crabs for once the season starts in the summer, whereas in recent seasons there has been large numbers of crabs caught early in the season that are under the 127mm minimum size limit. We reckon with more protection given for breeding female crabs, we will see more abundant and bigger crabs around in the next two to three years making for a better crabbing experience for everyone.

Q. Why has the Swan now got a special limit of five crabs?
A. Over the last few years there has been an explosion in the popularity in crabbing in the Swan and Canning rivers placing considerable pressure on crab stocks in the system. The introduction of a special five-crab limit for the Swan recognises the trophy nature of the fishery, which includes bigger sized crabs that were typical in this fishery but have been in decline in recent years. The new limit and the introduction of a seasonal closure should ensure bigger, better quality crabs will be ready to crab for when the season opens in the summer. In the next two to three years, these changes should see the re-establishment of the Swan/Canning as a crab fishery famed for its quality sized crabs. The boat limit of 20 still applies, but you will now need four RFBLs (recreational boat fishing licences) to take your boat limit.

Q. Do I now need four RFBLs if I am boat fishing for crabs if we want to take our 20 crab boat limit in the Swan/Canning rivers?
A. Yes – the bag limit is now five crabs per fisher. In order to take a boat limit of 20 crabs, you will need at least four people on board who have a recreational fishing from boat licence. Click on this link on the Fisheries website here http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Fishing-and-Aquaculture/Recreational-Fishing/Recreational-Fishing-Rules/Pages/Bag-And-Size-Limits-Explained.aspx for more information.

Q. Tell me more about this commercial licence buy-back scheme?
A. As part of the package announced by the Minister for Fisheries, and following an agreed proposal to the Minister and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) between us and the commercial sector, 15 oceanic commercial fishing licences in waters from Cockburn Sound to Bunbury will be bought out by the government and permanently closed to commercial fishing. This will result in protection of the female breeding stock underpinning the stocks’ sustainability. This announcement is particularly important for protecting female breeding stock when they leave the estuaries and use the nearshore oceanic areas to spawn each winter. These female crabs traditionally made up a significant proportion of the commercial catch during winter.

Q. Does the spring closure apply to Geographe Bay?
A. No, Geographe Bay will remain open all year-round. The only change in Geographe Bay will be that from 1 December, you will only be able have a maximum of five female crabs within your bag limit of 10 crabs.

Q. Does the closure apply to commercial fishers as well as recreational crabbers?
A. Yes – the three-month spring closure (1 September 1 to 30 November inclusive) applies to both recreational and commercial crab fishing in oceanic and estuarine waters from the Swan/Canning down to just south of Bunbury.

Q. You say Cockburn Sound might be reopening for recreational crabbing. When is this likely to happen?
A. We have long had an interest in reopening Cockburn Sound for recreational crabbing. Now with the buy-back of the commercial crab fishing licences in Cockburn Sound, there is no reason why the Sound shouldn’t reopen to recreational crabbing by next summer.

Crab Fishery Changes – A Step Towards Bigger Better Crabs

21 AUGUST, MEDIA RELEASE

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland has welcomed today’s announcement by the Minister for Fisheries, 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.

Ends

MEDIA CONTACT: Ben Carlish, Communications Lead – 0434 942 678, ben@recfishwest.org.au

Breaking News – Crab Review

BREAKING NEWS!

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

Have your Say on Crabs

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.

 

Restoring the Balance: The 1st Step to Bigger Better Crabs

Media Release, 11 October 2018

  • Recfishwest Vision – Bigger Better Crabs for Peel Harvey
  • Minister Prioritises and Protects Family Fishing Experiences
  • The Right Abundances in the Right Places

Recfishwest welcomes today’s announcement from Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly, to establish a buyback scheme for commercial fishing licences in the Peel-Harvey Estuary. This announcement honours an important election commitment the McGowan government made to recreational fishers.

The Peel Harvey Estuary is the spiritual home of recreational crabbing with thousands of family’s flocking to Mandurah every year to enjoy the experience of catching their own seafood across the summer months.

Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell commended the Minister and his actions.

 “Crabbing and fishing in the estuary is the lifeblood of the region and today’s announcement means more Blue Swimmer Crabs and Yellowfin Whiting will be left in the water for fishing families.”

 “Recfishwest have been calling for change to management arrangements in this fishery for over a decade and by honouring their election commitment the McGowan Government are supporting safe, accessible and enjoyable fishing experiences for all West Aussies.”

“The scheme is designed to allocate more Blue Swimmer Crabs and Yellowfin Whiting to recreational fishing families and is a positive first step in bringing big crabs back to the region.” Mr Campbell said.

Recfishwest are happy with the creation of a mechanism allowing recreational fishing licence money to assist with resolving resource reallocation issues. This sets an important and positive precedence for restoring the right balance between commercial and recreational fishing.

Recfishwest looks forward to continuing to work with the Minster and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to ensure greater recreational fishing experiences in the region.

Read Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly’s Media Statement here.

Night Vision Cameras to Protect Peel Harvey Crabs

Blue Swimmer Crabs in the Peel-Harvey are receiving a break from commercial and recreational fishing until November 1 2016. The Peel-Harvey crab fishery is very accessible and offers crabbing opportunities for scoopers and netters, from both boat and shore. This system is the spiritual home of the most popular recreational fishery in the state, with more blue swimmers caught in WA than any other species.

Recfishwest are once again expecting the Department of Fisheries to target illegal fishers taking undersize crabs at the start of the season. Recfishwest support strong compliance in this fishery as the targeting of undersize crabs and the taking of more than the legal bag limit by illegal fishers are common problems at the start of the crab season. The Department of Fisheries invest a lot of resources including infrared cameras and mobile patrols to catch those who are illegally fishing and spoiling it for the rest of us.

The two month closure from 1 Sep to 31 Oct (inclusive) gives young crabs extra time to mature and moult as most crabs are currently below the legal size of 127mm. While the fishery will re-open on 1 Nov the crabs are still likely to be quite small with the best crab fishing experiences not expected until the New Year.

The reward for the current closure and strong enforcement of the rules is some world-class seafood from a sustainable fishery which earlier this year became the first recreational fishery in the world to receive Marine Stewardship Council certification.

For those who are unsure when it is the best time to go crabbing in the Peel Harvey Estuary why not sign up to Recfishwest’s free weekly fishing reports. These reports will be reporting on Peel Harvey crab catches every week once the fishery re-opens and can provide advice on the best places to go to improve your fishing experience.

Mandurah Crabs Receive World First Certification

RECFISHWEST is thrilled the Peel-Harvey Estuary’s iconic Blue Swimmer Crab fishery has been recognised as the world’s first internationally certified sustainable recreational and commercial combined fishery in June 2016. The certification awarded to both the Mandurah Licensed Fisherman’s Association and Recfishwest, who were co-clients in the process, by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The MSC is an independent, international non-profit organisation established to safeguard healthy fish stocks.

The Peel-Harvey blue swimmer crab fishery is the most popular WA recreational fishery and also provides a livelihood for 10 commercial crab licence holders. Receiving this world-first certification ensures the longevity of this fishery and Recfishwest has been an enthusiastic supporter of the process, which protects and promotes sustainable and enjoyable fishing opportunities for the WA community.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said he was thrilled with the announcement but more we can’t rest on our morels and continued best-practised need to be maintained.

“This was never an exercise in achieving sustainability or gaining approval of being sustainable, this was an exercise in ensuring that correct management measures are maintained and improved if need be to ensure people can come to Mandurah with the confidence that their crabs are here to stay,” Dr Rowland said.

Mandurah Licensed Fisherman’s Association President Damien Bell and long-time crab fisher said seeing the certification finally come to fruition in line with good science with a sustainability outcome for both sectors is a win – win.

“We have been providing WA with some of the best, most sustainable seafood for many years and we wouldn’t be here today if we weren’t sustainable in our practices and I’m proud that the fishery has been recognised by an independent third party as sustainable” Mr Bell said.

It is the first recreational fishery in the world to gain recognition through the Marine Stewardship Council certification program. The MSC certification gives the community reassurance they can continue to do so for years to come at the same time as remaining compatible with the outstanding environmental values of the estuary.

For more on MSC and other certified fisheries, click here.