BULLSBROOK crabber Tammy Violante (43) was instantly suspicious about a crab she netted in Bicton on December 5,
It was later confirmed to an invading Asian paddle crab, and the catch was just 2km from some of the first catches of the pest in Mosman Park in 2012.
“When I pulled it up both of us on the boat said ‘I think it’s one of those crabs’,” Ms Violante said.
Her Blackwall Reach catch of a female without eggs has reignited fears Swan River marine life, including the blue swimmer crab, could be out-competed, after the invader successfully colonised New Zealand waters after 2000.
Ms Violante said she was aware of the pest after reading Fisheries’ warnings and, after confirming her suspicions with an Internet search for a biosecurity alert, put the pest alive in a bucket and immediately called the FishWatch reporting line.
“Within minutes Fisheries rang and told me to keep it alive, take photos and keep a GPS reading of the catch site, before they organised to pick it up at the boat ramp,” she said.
Fisheries aquatic biosecurity officer Marion Massam said while the Asian paddle crab had not yet established Australian populations, vigilance was needed to prevent it becoming a marine pest in WA.
“The newly discovered Asian paddle crab was brown with orange highlights and purple legs, but we know the species varies greatly in colour and its definitive features are the six sharp spines between the eyes and the six spines down each side of the shell,” Ms Massam said.
However, the pest can be confused with natives such as the small four-lobed swimming crab, which has no spines between its eyes.
“If you think you’ve found an Asian paddle crab, please examine it closely by comparing it against the pest alert that’s available online at www.fish.wa.gov.au, and make a note of where you saw or caught it,” Ms Massam said.
A suspect crab must be photographed above and below, kept, FishWatch called on 1800 815 507, and information is at www.fish.wa.gov.au/biosecurity.