SWAN River crab fishers have been put on alert after the reported spread of the pest Asian paddle crab in New Zealand waters.
“Since its detection in Auckland in 2000, the aggressive Asian paddle crab has spread to adjacent estuaries and has also been found over 100km north in Whangarei,” Department of Fisheries senior management officer Marion Massam said.
Ms Massam said WA’s crab fishers should not be complacent after no further reports of the pest the discovery of four specimens in Mosman Bay in the Swan River in 2012 and 2014, and one in Mandurah in 2010.
“An invasion of this pest crab species has already occurred in New Zealand and given the previous reports here in WA we need to take extra care to avoid a similar impact,” she said.
The Asian paddle crab has sharp spines on the front of its shell between the eyes and its aggressive behaviour is a danger to WA species, including the edible blue swimmer crab.
In contrast, the small, brown native four-lobed swimming crab, with which has often been mistaken, has no spines between the eyes.
Ms Massam said while the Asian paddle crab had not established itself in Australia yet, recreational crabbers had a vital role in continuing its control this summer by calling FishWatch at the capture of a suspicious crab.
Crabs should be photographed, the location noted and the specimen preserved for analysis.
A pest alert is at www.fish.wa.gov.au and FishWatch can be contacted on 1800 815 507.