The summer crabbing season will officially open on December 1 but crabbers are being warned to expect a large number of undersized crabs in the Mandurah region.
Most commercial and recreational crab fisheries, from Minninup Beach (15km south of Bunbury) and north to the Swan/Canning Rivers, will open tomorrow, after a three-month closure to protect pre-spawning female blue swimmer crabs.
Cockburn Sound remains closed to all crab fishing, due to ongoing low stock levels.
During the early part of the season, a key issue for fishers in the Peel-Harvey and Mandurah regions will be that, while there are good numbers of crabs, a large percentage of these are still undersize.
Fisheries compliance officers will be looking closely at retained catches to ensure fishers do not keep any blue swimmers below the legal size limit.
Fishers are urged to be careful in handling crabs, make sure they measure all blue swimmers they do catch and, if they’re less than 127mm across the widest part of their shells, return these to the water immediately.
This will help the crabs to survive and grow to be legally fished later in the season.
DPIRD Fisheries Management Officer Nick Blay said the department appreciated the support of crab fishers for complying with size and bag limit rules.
“There will not be many legal size blueys in the Peel Harvey for another month, so some fishers may prefer to wait, but our compliance officers will be monitoring the crabbing closely,” Mr Blay added. “Don’t risk a fine or prosecution by taking undersize crabs or more than the bag limit.
“Any suspected illegal fishing activity should be reported to 1800 815 507. All FishWatch calls received are treated in the strictest of confidence.”
More information is available in Crabbing for blue swimmer crabs in the west coast region or the Recreational fishing guide, available on the department’s website at www.fish.wa.gov.au. The obligation for all fishers is to know the rules that apply where they go crabbing.