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Crab stocks are healthy: report

Emily SharpSouth Western Times
Department of Fisheries crab research scientist David Harris is urging recreational crabbers to get involved with the project to ensure crab stocks for future generations.
Camera IconDepartment of Fisheries crab research scientist David Harris is urging recreational crabbers to get involved with the project to ensure crab stocks for future generations. Credit: Department of Fisheries

Blue swimmer crabs and their fishers have helped shine the light on the condition of stock numbers in the Leschenault Estuary and Geographe Bay.

Those who have not been getting a decent haul of crabs off the South West coast can no longer blame low numbers with a recent research project revealing crab stocks are healthy.

Department of Fisheries crab research scientist David Harris said the blue swimmer crabs represented an iconic WA recreational fishing experience.

“The South West Recreational Crabbing Project provided the opportunity to engage local crabbing communities to develop ongoing, cost-effective programs that could deliver annual information on recreational crabbing and stock dynamics in important recreational-only blue swimmer crab fisheries,” he said.

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“While anecdotal evidence from our crabbers suggests that crabbing has changed over the last 40 years or so in both the Leschenault Estuary and Geographe Bay, the data we received suggested that the crab stocks in each fishery are currently healthy.”

The research program took place over three years after Statewide surveys in 2011-12 and 2013-14 reported three times more blue swimmer crabs were being caught than any other recreational species.

Mr Harris said due to the success of the program, and despite the fact funding had run out, the project would continue to compile long-term data sets needed for harvest strategies.

He also encouraged other crabbing enthusiasts to get involved with the project and help ensure the crabs would be around for years to come.

“The DoF looks forward to continuing to work together with our valued recreational crabbers in the Leschenault Estuary and Geographe Bay to ensure the sustainability of crab stocks in these fisheries for future generations,” Mr Harris said.

“The more information we can collect from crabbers, the better the picture we can get of the health of the crab stocks.”

Those interested in joining the program should call 9203 0252 for more information.

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