Crabbers get battle call

Fisheries officers Russell Adams and Brad Tilley want crabbers to look out for asian paddle crab this summer.
Fisheries officers Russell Adams and Brad Tilley want crabbers to look out for asian paddle crab this summer.

‘This summer, we urge all netters to take a good look at any crab they catch, look at Fisheries’ pest identification sheet and call our inspectors before they reach shore if they suspect they have caught a paddle crab,’ Department of Fisheries biosecurity team leader Victoria Aitken said.

Fisheries confirmed three male specimens of the aggressive crab from east Asian waters, which is a threat to native crustaceans, were caught by crabbers in Mosman Bay last summer.

The species has invaded Auckland port after arriving in 2000 when there was an unconfirmed find in Adelaide.

But the three in Mosman Bay did not have enough DNA for tests that would have confirmed their origin or if a colony had been established in the estuary.

Fisheries’ 900 traps in the bay and at other nearby river locations had failed to catch more of the pests in the past 12 months.

‘The three captures could have been at time of the year when they are active, or all were caught, or it’s just a tiny population,’ Ms Aitken said.

Asian paddle crabs have six spines on either side of their shells, and eight between the eyes.

– Pest identification is at www.fisheries.wa.gov.au and reports can be made by calling 1800 815 507.