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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 25 November 2014

Crab fishing in Cockburn Sound on hold until stocks recover

​Following a review of the stock status of blue swimmer crabs in Cockburn Sound, it has been decided not to reopen the area to either commercial or recreational crab fishing for the 2014/15 season to assist with the recovery of the stock.

The decision not to reopen the fishery next month follows the early closure of the last crabbing season in Cockburn Sound, on 14 May this year.

Department of Fisheries South West Bioregions Manager Tim Nicholas said the latest review of the stocks shows the fishery needs to stay closed until crab numbers rebound.

“Our monitoring is showing the abundance of juvenile and residual crabs has decreased to very low levels and egg production has also declined significantly, so it’s vital the current breeding crabs are fully protected from fishing to allow the blue swimmer stock the maximum opportunity to rebuild,” Mr Nicholas said.

“The department believes the stock issues are largely being driven by ongoing unfavourable environmental conditions as well as biological factors.

“This creates a challenge for us because we cannot control the environmental or biological factors, but we can adapt the management to reduce fishing pressure on the stock and closures are effective in achieving this. Importantly, the department will maintain its close monitoring of the stock to check the progress of recovery.”

Mr Nicholas said the Department of Fisheries had consulted with Recfishwest and the WA Fishing Industry Council about the concerns for Cockburn Sound crabs, to work through the science and formulate management responses to aid the recovery of the stock.

“The department has a proven track record for identifying and dealing with issues regarding fishery stocks and, with the help of the sector bodies who take their stewardship roles very seriously, developed strategies that have previously resulted in the recovery of fish stocks – for example rock lobster and demersal scalefish species,” he said.

Fishers are reminded that the crab fishing closure area that applies to recreational fishing includes all waters of Cockburn Sound, as far north as the line from Woodman Point to the south-eastern end of Carnac Island.

To find out more about the closure area for crab fishing in Cockburn Sound and other fishing closures, you can find details at

Last modified: 17/02/2015 4:52 PM

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