New measures to protect blue swimmer crabs in Perth and South-West

  • ​Review finds greater blue swimmer crab protection is needed to safeguard the sustainability of the species
  • Peak fishing bodies and McGowan Government agree on management changes to protect blue swimmer crabs for future generations of fishers and seafood consumers
  • Management changes include a regional closure every spring
  • Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly today announced changes to strengthen the sustainability of Western Australia’s popular blue swimmer crab fishery in Perth and the South-West after considering public feedback and a joint management proposal from peak fishing bodies.

    A recent review of the blue swimmer crab resource in Western Australia found greater protections of the species were needed to ensure the fishery’s long-term sustainability. In response to this review, Recfishwest, Western Australian Fishing Industry Council and Southern Seafood Producers Association made a joint submission to the State Government with recommended measures to protect the prized species. The McGowan Government has decided to implement this joint proposal.

    New measures include:

    • A new seasonal crabbing closure in all waters from the Swan and Canning rivers south to Minninup Beach (about 15 kilometres south of Bunbury) will apply to recreational and commercial fishers and charter operators from September 1 until November 30 each year. This annual spring closure will provide important protection for the breeding stocks at a time when female crabs are highly vulnerable;
    • A voluntary buyback for commercial licences from oceanic crab fisheries in the Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds managed crab fisheries and the Mandurah to Bunbury Developmental Crab Fishery, leading to their permanent closure to commercial crab fishing. This builds on the previously announced buyback for commercial fishing licences in the Peel-Harvey Estuary;
    • 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; and
    • A new bag limit of five blue swimmer crabs will apply to recreational fishers in the Swan and Canning rivers to support a trophy crab fishery on Perth’s doorstep with larger crabs in the system. However, bag limits for other areas, including the Peel-Harvey Estuary, will remain the same.

    These new measures will allow for strong recruitment of crab stocks, ensuring availability to Western Australian fishers and consumers.

    The existing boat limit of 20 blue swimmer crabs in the West Coast region, which includes the Swan and Canning rivers, will remain unchanged, allowing plenty of opportunity to catch a feed to share with family and friends.

    For further details on the review and these important management changes, visit http://www.fish.wa.gov.au

    As stated by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

    “For thousands of Western Australians catching or enjoying a feed of crabs is a highly valued activity and part of WA’s summer lifestyle. This is an experience worth protecting.

    “To ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery we are making management changes based on the latest research and a joint proposal by the peak fishing bodies to safeguard this important resource.

    “I thank the WA Fishing Industry Council, Recfishwest and the Southern Seafood Producers Association for working together with the WA Government to reach an outcome that is supported by all and protects and safeguards our South-West blue swimmer crabs.

    “The new arrangements will give people the joy of either going crabbing or buying local crabs for nine months a year, when crabbing is at its best, but takes pressure off the blue swimmer breeding stock when they need a spring break.”

    As stated by Mandurah MLA David Templeman:

    “Maintaining a healthy, sustainable crab fishery in the Peel waterways is very important.

    “These measures will assist in ensuring crab stocks for future generations to enjoy.”