Winter is coming for Anglers in south western NSW who are set to brave the cold weather for their favourite crustacean, with the Murray Crayfish season officially opening this Saturday, 1 June 2019.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Fisheries Manager Cameron Westaway said the popular freshwater catch is mainly found in the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers and their tributaries.
“The opening of the Murray Crayfish season is an exciting time for freshwater fishers in NSW, with crays only permitted to be taken during the months of June, July and August,” Mr Westaway said.
“Environmental factors such as habitat degradation and modification have led to widespread declines in populations of the Murray Crayfish, and a number of rules are in place to protect the species and assist with its recovery.
“In the Murray River, fishing is permitted between the Hume Weir and the Tocumwal Road Bridge, including Lake Mulwala, and in the Murrumbidgee River between the Gundagai Road Bridge and Berembed Weir, excluding Old Man Creek.”
Mr Westaway said Murray Crayfish are slow growing, late maturing and these restrictions are based on quality science to ensure the sustainability of the fishery.
“During the season, the minimum size limit for the species is 10cm – measured from the rear of the eye socket to the centre rear of the carapace – and the maximum size limit is 12cm,” Mr Westaway said.
“There is also a daily bag limit of two crayfish and a total possession limit of four, and crayfish must only be taken from prescribed NSW waters, not any other locations.”
The opening of the Murray Crayfish season is highly anticipated by the local community, however DPI encourages fishers to abide by the rules to ensure the species is sustained for future generations.
“We’d like fishers to enjoy the season, but remind them to be respectful of the rules. Fisheries officers will be patrolling our waterways to ensure the rules are being followed,” Mr Westaway said.
Up to five hoop or lift nets per person may be used to take Murray Crayfish where permitted. The buoy must have the letters ‘HN’, initial and surname, year of birth and postcode, 15mm in height, clearly visible and in a contrasting colour to the buoy. Any rope attached to the buoy must not be floating on the surface of the water.
“The taking of berried females or removing heads, tails or claws in, on, or adjacent to waters is prohibited as is the taking of Murray Crayfish using any form of trap,” Mr Westaway added.
“Fishers may use hoop or lift nets where they can be legally used to take yabbies in other waters, however, if any Murray Crayfish are accidentally caught they must be immediately returned to the water unharmed.
“Fishers can also obtain a free Murray Crayfish measuring device and the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide from DPI Fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.”
Detailed information on the fishing rules and Murray Crayfish can be found at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries.
Check out the FishSmart app providing recreational fishers 24/7 smartphone access to essential information they need to know to fish in NSW. You can find it in the App Store or on Google Play.
Any suspected illegal fishing activity can be reported through the FishSmart app or to the Fishers Watch phone line on 1800 043 536.