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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Friday 25 August 2017

Fisheries investigating Bunbury crab deaths

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Fisheries Division has been investigating a marine fish kill event north of Bunbury at Belvidere Beach.

Following a report to FishWatch made by a member of the public of dead blue swimmer crabs along Belvidere Beach on Thursday 24th August, Fisheries and Marine Officers immediately visited the location to assess the situation and collect samples.

Initial estimates indicate about 500 dead blue swimmer crabs have washed ashore on Belvidere Beach.

Based on observations and preliminary analysis of the crabs, Fisheries scientists believe the event occurred a few days ago and may be an isolated event.

The samples have been sent to the department’s Fish Health unit for analysis. Results may take up to seven days depending on the tests being undertaken.

No other dead aquatic animals have been reported or sighted.

Fisheries will continue to monitor the area over the weekend and respond to enquiries.

This fish kill is a separate event and does not appear to be related to the bacterial shell disease found in crabs from Bunbury Harbour in December 2016.

As with all fish kills, the department recommends as a precaution people do not collect, handle, or move any dead crabs.

Fisheries reminds anyone not to swim or fish in water that looks discoloured, murky, or smells unpleasant, or where there are large numbers of dead crabs or another species.

The public’s vigilance and reporting of any unusual events and sightings is a very important part of the department’s Fish Kill response program. The earlier Fisheries hears about fish kill events, the better chance we have to respond and take suitable samples that will help establish what the cause might be. 

Any fish kills should be immediately reported to our FishWatch 24 hour hotline on 1800 815 507. For further information visit the Fisheries website at


We advise people to stay safe by following the general Department of Health advice:

  • not to swim in areas of water with large numbers of dead and decomposing fish because they may contain high levels of bacteria and have an objectionable odour;

  • not to fish in water with large numbers of dead fish;
  • temporarily not to collect or consume fish from the waters near a fish kill;
  • not to collect and use dead fish for bait or consumption because of the risk of high levels of bacteria; and
  • not to allow pets and other animals to come into contact with dead or decomposing fish either in the water or on shore.

Any fish kills should be reported to our FishWatch 24 hour hotline on 1800 815 507.


The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Fisheries Division is responsible for responding to fish kill events that occur in ocean environments. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation manages investigations on fish kills that occur in estuaries, rivers and naturally occurring inland water bodies.

In both circumstances, the Fish Health unit of the department carries out laboratory testing of any fish samples assessed as suitable for that purpose and this can take some time.    

Fish kills can occur anywhere in WA’s fresh and marine waters and can occur at any time of the day and in any month of the year.

Fish kills in open ocean areas like this one, may provide less evidence of a direct cause and we explore all possible explanations. It may not be possible to identify a single definitive cause, but every effort is made to establish probable factors.

For further information and updates about this fish kill visit the Fisheries website at

Last modified: 29/08/2017 10:34 AM

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