Jon Ford

Jon Ford

Minister for Employment Protection; Regional Development; Fisheries; the Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne

New management plan and research program for iconic blue swimmer crabs

3/05/2007 12:01 PM

Fisheries Minister Jon Ford today announced a dedicated $600,000 blue swimmer crab research program and a reduction in recreational bag and boat limits for crab fishing in the west coast region.

Mr Ford said the new management plan, which also included a two-month closure for commercial and recreational crab fishing in the Peel Harvey Estuary, was developed to ensure the future sustainability of the iconic Western Australian species.

“A range of environmental factors, including water temperature, the strengths of winds and currents and the amount and timing of rainfall, can affect the survival and growth rates of crabs, fish larvae and juveniles, leading to large fluctuations in available harvest over time,” he said.

“As the West Coast region is WA’s most popular fishing area, attracting almost 80 per cent of the State’s recreational fishers, we also need to be conscious of the growing pressure on crab stocks in popular locations and introduce measures in favour of sustainability.

“Recent events in Cockburn Sound have highlighted how a combination of factors from poor recruitment to fishing pressure can impact on crab stocks.

“To help counter impacts from environmental factors and pressures from increasing human activity in the region, I am halving the recreational daily bag and boat limits for blue swimmer crabs to a maximum of 10 and 20 respectively.

“Additionally, there will also be a commercial and recreational two-month closure from September 1 to October 31 (beginning this year) in the Peel Harvey Estuary.

“This will provide greater protection for crabs during critical stages of their reproductive cycle, particularly pre-spawning female crabs.”

Mandurah MLA David Templeman said there was widespread recognition in the Peel-Harvey community that these precautionary steps were needed now, until more research could be done to guide the management of the local crab fishery in the future.

“It is important that we protect WA’s unique lifestyle and environment,” Mr Templeman said.

Mr Ford said the Department of Fisheries would be working closely with commercial and recreational crab fishers to monitor the effectiveness of the new measures to ensure the sustainability of the blue swimmer crab.

The new bag and boat regulations take effect from November 1.

Click on PDF icon to view fact sheet on Blue Swimmer Crabs.

Minister's Office - 9213 7200