New measures to protect crabs
Seafood industry leaders have welcomed changes to recreational fishing designed to protect blue swimmer crab populations in the South West.
The new regulations follow a review of the sought-after species which found more protection was needed to safeguard the future.
Changes include a seasonal crabbing closure in all waters from the Swan and Canning rivers down to Minninup Beach from September 1 until November 30 each year.
The annual closure would provide protection during peak breeding times.
Bag limits have been introduced to the Swan and Canning rivers, but limits in the Peel-Harvey Estuary will remain the same.
Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly also announced a voluntary buyback scheme for commercial licences in the Cockburn and Warnbro sounds and in the crab fisheries in the Mandurah to Bunbury Developmental Crab Fishery.
This would build on the previously announced buyback for commercial fishing licences in the Peel-Harvey Estuary and lead to the permanent closure to commercial crab fishing.
Mr Kelly said the changes were based on the latest research designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of this important resource
“The new arrangements will give people the joy of either going crabbing or buying local crabs for nine months a year, when crabbing is at its best, but takes pressure off the blue swimmer breeding stock when they need a spring break,” Mr Kelly said.
WA Fishing Industry Council chief executive Alex Ogg said the agreement would help boost supply of blue swimmer crabs to the seafood-loving public and recreational community.
“The agreed changes will provide a practical solution to protect breeding females while ensuring the viability of industry into the future,” Mr Ogg said.
Southern Seafood Producers executive officer Don Nicholls said the new arrangements would mean better economic returns for commercial crabbers while maintaining the supply of local crabs during peak times.
“The announcement will provide greater certainty for the commercial crabbing industry and offer an opportunity for some within the industry, who wish to do so, to exit with dignity,” Mr Nicholls said.
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