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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Blue swimmer crab commercial fishing

In Western Australia, most of the annual blue swimmer crab commercial catch comes from Shark Bay. The Peel-Harvey Estuary is the most significant commercial crab fishery in the South West. For the most recent catch figures and values see the latest State of the fisheries report.

Crabs are caught commercially using a variety of fishing gear. Traditionally set (gill) nets or drop nets were used, however, purpose-designed crab traps are now used in most commercial fisheries. Crabs are also retained by the State’s trawl fisheries.

Commercial blue swimmer crab fisheries in the West Coast Bioregion are:

  • Warnbro Sound Crab Managed Fishery
  • Swan and Canning rivers (Area I), the Peel-Harvey Estuary (Area II) and Hardy Inlet (Area III), which make up the West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery
  • Mandurah to Bunbury Developing Crab Fishery.
  • Cockburn Sound Crab Managed Fishery

In 2014 Cockburn Sound was closed following research that found the crab stock in the sound was depleted due to environmental and biological factors. Annual research is undertaken in Cockburn Sound to monitor the stock and inform when the area may reopen.

A 2018 review of the South West Blue Swimmer Crab resource found greater protection was needed to protect the breeding stock. A three month closure is now in place from 1 September to 30 November each year in coastal waters, rivers and estuaries from the Swan and Canning Rivers to Minninup Beach (about 15km south of Bunbury).

As an outcome of the review, the State Government will start a process to buy back commercial fishing licences in Cockburn Sound, Warnbro Sound and the Mandurah to Bunbury Developmental Crab Fishery. Following the buyback process, commercial fishing in these areas will be closed to help protect the breeding stock.

Last modified: 21/08/2019 9:57 AM

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