WA Commercial Fishers Secure Stocks of South West Blue Swimmer Crabs

Seasonal Spring fishing closures in the South West will be implemented for the popular ‘shared’ species. Photo credit: Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

For three months of the year, seasonal Spring fishing closures in the South West will be implemented for the much-loved blue swimmer crab – after a joint submission from industry and recreational fishers to protect the species was backed by the State Government and formally announced on August 21.

WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) Chief Executive Officer, Alex Ogg, said the agreement, negotiated between WAFIC, Southern Seafood Producers Association WA (SSPWA) and Recfishwest (RFW), aims to boost the supply of quality blue swimmer crabs to the seafood loving public and recreational community.

“Industry have worked closely with the Western Australian Government and Recfishwest (RFW) to ensure the security of the ‘shared’ popular seafood species.”

“It is a great result which follows months of consultation and negotiation and highlights how both sectors can work together with regulators to achieve fisheries management outcomes. The agreed changes will provide a practical solution to protect breeding females while ensuring the viability of industry into the future.”

The closure, from 1 September until 30 November will cover waters from Swan and Canning Rivers south to Minninup Beach (about 15km south of Bunbury). The agreement also sees the recreational bag limit in the Swan and Canning fishery reduced from ten to five blue swimmer crabs.

Mr Ogg said the Minister announced a voluntary buyback for commercial licences providing much needed clarity and certainty for South West commercial operators who fish for the popular species.

A voluntary buyback for commercial licences will provide much needed clarity and certainty for South West commercial operators. Photo credit: Marine Stewardship Council

“The Cockburn Sound Crab Managed Fishery has for many years been closed to commercial fishing due to environmental changes, whilst continuation of the Mandurah and Bunbury Developmental Fishery remained uncertain for over 25 years. A compensation and buy-back process offers the chance for commercial fishers to move on with recognition and dignity,” he said.

Mr Ogg said that industry now welcomes commitment from the Government to turn serious attention to better monitoring of recreational catch and address ongoing compliance issues.

“The commercial industry works collaboratively to fish in accordance with their harvest strategy and provides detailed catch records to the Government.”

The industry welcomes commitment from the Government to turn serious attention to better monitoring of recreational catch and address ongoing compliance issues. Photo credit: Marine Stewardship Council

“What we do not know is the accurate level of the recreational take. There are hundreds of thousands of recreational fishers, many targeting the blue swimmer crab, however, there is limited monitoring of recreational fishers and their catches.”

“Addressing compliance issues, which was outlined in the agreement, will not only ensure the future of the fishery but reassurance for the men and women across our seafood industry. Industry welcomes working with Government to determine future solutions.”

Concluding Mr Ogg said that the priority for industry was to enable the region to have healthy commercial and recreational fisheries for generations to come.

“This announcement provides us with optimism that there will be ongoing commercial access to South West blue swimmer crabs in the future – working alongside the recreational sector.”

“It also acts as a prompt reminder for the public to be aware that the Western Australian Peel-Harvey Estuarine Fishery became the first combined recreational and commercial fishery, in the world, to be recognised as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).”

The Western Australian Peel-Harvey Estuarine Fishery became the first combined recreational and commercial fishery, in the world, to be recognised as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Photo credit: Marine Stewardship Council

“To achieve the MSC certified title means that the fishery has passed the world’s most rigorous, scientific standards – something we should all be very proud of,” concluded Mr Ogg.

Click to read SSPWA Media Release

Click to Read the Hon. Dave Kelly Media Release 

Click to read the Recfishwest Media Release 

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For more information contact:

Danika Gusmeroli, Communications Officer, WAFIC

P:         (08) 9432 7710

E:         communications@wafic.org.au