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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Thursday 25 October 2018

WA's iconic blue swimmer crab is up for discussion in the South West

​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.

Such a popular species, providing hours of fishing pleasure to many people and a tasty treat to those who get to enjoy the catch, needs effective management that ensures the resource is sustainable and accounts for environmental variations and other impacts on fishing potential.  

There is a suite of variously-managed recreational and commercial fisheries in the South West, from the Swan River to Geographe Bay, that catch this highly-valued resource.

To safeguard their sustainability, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has identified that increased breeding stock protection and coordination of management for South West blue swimmer crabs is needed.  A discussion paper has been released to obtain public comment on various management options.

South West Bioregions Manager Tim Nicholas said the options being considered in this review are presented in the management paper with the pros and cons outlined for each one.

“I urge stakeholders and interested community members to read through the discussion paper to get a full understanding of the challenges facing these crab fisheries and be mindful of the need to strengthen the future of the blue swimmer crab in WA’s South West,” Mr Nicholas said.

“While recreational crab fishing is an intrinsic part of the lifestyle for many South West communities, so is being able to buy local, commercially caught crabs for seafood shoppers. 

“Any new management arrangements must strike the right balance and consider the impacts of both commercial and recreational fishing – no sector can be managed in isolation.

“The discussion paper identifies broad-scale seasonal closures as the most balanced option, particularly for mated pre-spawn female crabs that are literally carrying the future of the fishery.  Currently, these are highly vulnerable to capture in late autumn, winter and spring.” 

Mr Nicholas said crabs in the South West were near the southern extremity of their natural range in WA and favourable environmental conditions were critical to recruitment success.

“Blue swimmers have a short, up to three-year, lifespan and move in and out of estuaries as salinity levels vary, so management needs to support successful recruitment that gives female crabs the best opportunity to spawn and help create a robust and healthy population.” he said.

Details on how to comment on the draft review of management arrangements outlined in Fisheries Management Paper No. 288 – Protecting breeding stock levels of the blue swimmer crab resource in the south west are now available on the Public comment and consultation page. The website information also includes a Summary document.

Last modified: 25/10/2018 1:57 PM

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