Department of Fisheries to crack down on catching of undersized crabs

Department of Fisheries to crack down on catching of undersized crabs

THE Department of Fisheries wants crabbers to measure their catch carefully as there is likely to be a predominance of undersize crabs.

The crabbing season opens next Tuesday .

Fisheries and Marine Officers will be out in force to ensure fishers are complying with the size, bag and possession limits and other rules.

South Metropolitan Region Compliance manager Ryan Parker said environmental conditions, like cooler temperatures and heavy rain, had had a big impact over recent months.

“The undersize crabs won’t grow until they can moult and that won’t happen until the weather and water temperatures warm up, so fishers may take a little longer to find legal size crabs in the early months of the season,” he said.

“At all times fishers should measure their catches carefully and return any undersize crabs to the water before attempting to catch another crab.”

There is a multi-lingual guide for the West Coast Bioregion titled Crabbing for Blue Swimmers that highlights the rules, what the approved crabbing gear is and how to identify an egg-carrying female crab, which, like any undersize crab, cannot be kept by fishers.

Mr Parker said the onus was always on the fisher to know the rules and Fisheries would not hesitate to fine or prosecute any rule-breakers.

“People who ignore the rules or minimum size limit (127mm) can expect hefty fines,” he said.

A man was recently found guilty in the Mandurah Court of being in possession of 40 undersize crabs early last season and he was ordered to pay $5500 for the offence.

“We also thank the member of the public who called FishWatch to let us know about the offender’s activity and we ask the community to be an extra pair of eyes on the water,” Mr Parker said.

Fish Watch can be contacted on 1800 815 507.