Department step in to safeguard the blue swimmer crab’s sustainability in the South West

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is eager to hear the community's thoughts on management options for the popular blue swimmer crab.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is eager to hear the community's thoughts on management options for the popular blue swimmer crab.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has released a discussion paper to obtain public comment on management options for the popular blue swimmer crab.

After reviewing recreational fishing surveys since 2011, the department identified that increased breeding stock protection and coordination of management for South West blue swimmer crabs was necessary.

Findings from the research revealed the blue swimmer crab was the most caught species in Western Australia.

The department revealed that an effective management plan to ensure the resource was sustainable, was crucial. 

South West Bioregions manager Tim Nicholas said any new arrangement needed to strike the right balance and consider the impacts of commercial and recreational fishing.

“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,” he 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. 

“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.”  

Currently, there are variously-managed recreational and commercial fisheries in the South West, from the Swan River to Geographe Bay, that catch this highly-valued resource.

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.

To have your say visit fish.wa.gov.au, submissions close November 23.