Fishers and tourism providers have implored Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly to listen to their proposal for sustainable female blue swimmer crab management amid growing speculation of a blanket ban across the State.
Such a ban would leave fishers unable to catch crabs from May-December across the State while local crabbing fisheries were busiest from June-October.
Siesta Park director Greg Tickle said that it was “disappointing” Mr Kelly hadn’t consulted local fishers about the importance of winter/spring crabbing in Geographe Bay.
“Any problems faced by the Peel-Harvey estuary fishery are vastly different and removed from the Geographe Bay fishery,” he said.
“The two areas deserve and need to be appropriately managed.”
Recfishwest chief executive Andrew Rowland said local crabbers supported a limit to the amount of female crabs that could be kept rather than a broad-scale closure.
“We support this arrangement, which would still allow fishers to catch crabs during the important winter and spring months while providing increased protection to female breeding stock,” Dr Rowland said.
“Recfishwest has written to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development indicating our support for the Geographe Bay community’s view.”
According to the State Government, recreational fishers spent $305.6 million a year in the South West alone, the most of any region.
Mr Kelly said the State Government wanted the recreational fishing experience to become one of the best in the world, and any management outcomes would be made in consultation with Recfishwest.
“No decision has been made and no recommendations are currently with me to consider,” Mr Kelly said. “DPIRD is in the process of a review of the blue swimmer crab resource extending from the Swan River in Perth down to the Hardy Inlet in Augusta.”
However, it is believed the Government desires a consistent plan across the State.
Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said it would be “irresponsible” for Mr Kelly to ban all winter crabbing.
“If the minister is serious about growing the recreational fishing industry, which supports local businesses, he needs to rethink his proposal to shut down one of the largest dedicated recreational crab fisheries in the State,” she said.