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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
          ​​Check your blueys
Monday 28 November 2022

Check your crabs closely when the Perth and South West crab fishing resumes

The autumn closure to protect blue swimmer crab breeding stocks during spawning wraps up on Wednesday, so fishers can get out from the Swan River to Binningup Beach with their drop nets or scoops to catch some blueys from 1 December.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) researchers have been checking stocks in Cockburn Sound, Warnbro Sound, Comet Bay, Geographe Bay and the Swan Canning, Peel-Harvey and Leschenault estuaries, and report that breeding stock levels in most of the fisheries are within historic ranges.

In Cockburn Sound, both juvenile and breeding stock levels are well below Harvest Strategy reference levels and will remain closed for the 2022/23 season, but recreational crabbers may fish north of a line between Woodman Point and Carnac Island. 

DPIRD fisheries researchers do regular blue swimmer crab stock assessments

The removal of commercial crab fishing in Warnbro Sound and in the Mandurah to Comet Bay Bunbury fisheries has provided additional protection for blue swimmer stocks. 

Fishers are reminded there will be high proportions of undersize crabs in the Peel-Harvey Estuary when the season opens, and DPIRD compliance officers will be checking catches.  Everyone crabbing should know the rules, measure their catches and promptly put undersize crabs back in the water.

DPIRD Fisheries Management Officer Bianca Brooks said leaving undersize crabs alone or returning them to the water quickly if they don’t measure up was important.

“Small crabs which are returned carefully and promptly to the water will continue to grow throughout the season, meaning fishers can catch larger crabs and have a better feed in January or February,” Ms Brooks said.  

“When you’re crabbing, we also urge fishers to inspect their crabs closely and not to collect or consume crabs that are damaged or have shell lesions, or appear in poor health or condition, as they may be affected by bacterial pathogens or other agents that can impact human health.”

Manea Senior College students, who were on an authorised blue swimmer crab sampling exercise recently in Leschenault Estuary and Bunbury Harbour, found higher than usual levels of chitinoclastic shell disease caused by a bacterium that breaks down crab shells.

Anyone who sees affected crabs in areas other than Bunbury Harbour is asked to take a photo if possible (but do not retain the crab), and report immediately to DPIRD’s 24/7 FishWatch service on 1800 815 507.

If you are fishing in the Swan or Canning Rivers, where toxin-producing algae Alexandrium can be present, it’s advisable you do not eat the crab guts of blue swimmer crabs and remove the head, mustard and gills and wash crabs prior to freezing cooking, or eating the crab meat.

Last modified: 21/12/2022 1:13 PM

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