More protection for blue-swimmer crabs in the South-West

Plain between a bit of bread with a beer in hand.

That's how WA Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly likes his blue manna crab and that's how he intends to continue enjoying them for years to come.

The state MP teamed up with Recfishwest and the WA Fishing Industry Council in Mandurah on Wednesday morning to announce changes that will strengthen the future of the species.

Under new reform drawn up to protect breeding stocks, all waters from the Swan and Canning rivers to Bunbury's Minninup Beach, including Mandurah's waterways, will see their annual seasonal closure stretched to three months, with fishing for blue swimmers prohibited between September 1 and November 30.

Geographe Bay will remain open to recreational blue swimmer crab fishing all year, however, recreational fishers will now only be allowed to take a maximum of five females in their bag limit of 10 crabs.

A voluntary buyback scheme will also be introduced for those holding licences in the Mandurah to Bunbury Developmental Crab Fishery, which could potentially lead to the permanent closure of commercial crab fishing in the catchment.

Bag limits in the Swan and Canning rivers will also be reduced as part of the changes, with fishers limited to a catch of five crabs per day, but the current limit of 10 will remain in the Peel-Harvey.

Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland welcomed the changes.

"Crabs are the most-fished species in WA, so it's vital we get the balance right," he said.

"We've been calling for changes to management in the fishery for 10 years now, so to know the species will be protected for future years is a great outcome.

"We expect to see improvement in stocks and the quality of crabs people are able to catch within two to three years, so it's a big win for the local area."

Mr Kelly said the new laws ensured a brighter future for crabbing in WA.

"Crabs are a really important part of Western Australian culture, and the fact that you can eat a fresh caught WA crab is just a great part of our lifestyle," he said.

For further information on the review and the subsequent management changes, visit fish.wa.gov.au.

This story Mind our mannas first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.