Save Peninsula’s giant spider crabs

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Mornington Peninsula Shire is calling on the State Government to protect thousands of spider crabs during their annual moulting event in southern Port Phillip bay.

Deputy Mayor and Nepean Ward Councillor Sarah Race highlighted Council’s ongoing concerns via a Notice of Motion (NOM) at the Council meeting on 18 May.

The NOM was carried unanimously by Council and determined that the Shire write to the relevant Ministers and local State and Federal Members of Parliament seeking a fishing exclusion zone for the crabs between May to July; continue engagement with Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA); and promote Council’s position to the wider community.

The Shire has previously written to the State Government and the VFA to share significant concerns raised by the community regarding the increased level of human interference in the annual spider crab moulting event around Rye and Blairgowrie.

Following this correspondence, the Shire welcomed the VFA’s decision to temporarily reduce catch limits from 30 to 15 spider crabs per person and increase location signage but Council continues to push for a longer term management plan for this wonderful natural phenomenon. On top of Council’s list is a request to the VFA and the Minister to implement a seasonal no take zone, that would be exclusively for the giant spider crab (Leptomithrax gaimardii), this would be similar to those used to protect rays in Port Phillip Bay.

Council is also working with the Peninsula’s Spider Crab Alliance (SCA) whose aim is to highlight the community concerns of the crabbing and netting of the giant spider crabs during their annual aggregation. The SCA has a community information session at 2pm on 6 June at the Rye Scout Hall. (subject to Covid-19 restrictions)

Quotes attributable to Mayor Despi O’Connor

“In the past couple of years we’ve witnessed hundreds of people congregating on Rye pier to lower their crab nets and catch countless numbers of crabs. The chicken carcasses and other food sources used to attract the crabs has resulted in significant pollution in the water and on the foreshore which is unacceptable.”

“As a major stakeholder in the management of the Rye foreshore, we echo the communities concerns about the crabs and urge the government to protect them.”

“With the annual aggregation event about to happen, we are urgently calling on the Victorian Fisheries Authority and Minister to implement an exclusion zone to protect the crabs and this unique occurrence.”

Quotes attributable to Deputy Mayor and Nepean Ward Councillor Sarah Race

“When Sir David Attenborough flew halfway around the world to document this amazing natural phenomenon as part of his Blue Planet television series, he recognised the importance of documenting and celebrating this wonderful event. In this spirit, we want to protect the crabs so people can witness the wonders of nature, not harm the crab population and risk the future of this species and the local ecosystem.”

“Let’s celebrate the crabs, not decimate them.”

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