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Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery : Commercial quota setting for June 2015 – May 2016

Campbell, M. J., O'Neill, M. F. and McGilvray, J. G. (2016) Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery : Commercial quota setting for June 2015 – May 2016. Technical Report. State of Queensland.

PDF (Queensland Spanner Crab Fishery : Commercial quota setting for June 2015 – May 2016)


The Australian fishery for spanner crabs is the largest in the world, with the larger Queensland (QLD) sector’s landings primarily exported live overseas and GVP valued ~A$5 million per year. Spanner crabs are unique in that they may live up to 15 years, significantly more than blue swimmer crabs (Portunus armatus) and mud crabs (Scylla serrata), the two other important crab species caught in
Queensland. Spanner crabs are caught using a flat net called a dilly, on which the crabs becoming entangled via the swimming legs.

Quota setting rules are used to assess and adjust total allowable harvest (quota) around an agreed target harvest of 1631 t and capped at a maximum of 2000 t. The quota varies based on catch rate indicators from the commercial fishery and a fishery-independent survey from the previous two years, compared to target reference points. Quota management applies only to ‘Managed Area A’ which includes waters between Rockhampton and the New South Wales (NSW) border.

This report has been prepared to inform Fisheries Queensland (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries) and stakeholders of catch trends and the estimated quota of spanner crabs in Managed Area A for the forthcoming quota period (1 June 2015–31 May 2016). The quota calculations followed the methodology developed by the crab fishery Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) between November 2007 and March 2008.

The total reported spanner crab harvest was 917 t for the 2014 calendar year, almost all of which was taken from Managed Area A. In 2014, a total of 59 vessels were active in the QLD fishery, the lowest number since the peak in 1994 of 262 vessels. Recent spanner crab harvests from NSW waters have been about 125 t per year.

The spanner crab Managed Area A commercial standardised catch rate averaged 0.739 kg per net-lift in 2014, 24% below the target level of 1.043. Mean catch rates declined in the commercial fishery in 2014, although the magnitude of the decreases was highest in the area north of Fraser Island.

The NSW–QLD survey catch rate in 2014 was 16.849 crabs per ground-line, 22% above the target level of 13.972. This represented a decrease in survey catch rates of 0.366 crabs per ground-line, compared to the 2013 survey.

The Queensland spanner crab total allowable harvest (quota) was set at 1923 t in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, the quota was calculated at the base level of 1631 t. However, given that the 2012 fisheryindependent survey was not undertaken for financial reasons, stakeholders proposed that the total allowable commercial catch (TACC) be decreased to 1777 t; a level that was halfway between the 2012/13 quota of 1923 t and the recommended base quota of 1631 t. The results from the current analysis indicate that the quota for the 2015-2016 financial year be decreased from 1777 t to the base quota of 1631 t.

Item Type:Monograph (Technical Report)
Business groups:Animal Science
Subjects:Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Fishery research
Aquaculture and Fisheries > Fisheries > Shellfish fisheries
Live Archive:15 Mar 2016 23:08
Last Modified:03 Sep 2021 16:44

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