Blue Swimmer Crab


Latin name: Portunus armatus


Common name: Crab

  • Better Choice

Wild Caught

Region:
NSW, SA

Key Facts

  • Stocks of blue swimmer crabs in SA, which has the largest fishery for the species in Australia, and NSW are healthy.
  • Stocks have recovered as a result of effective management supporting the recovery of populations that were previously in decline.
  • Blue swimmer crabs are mainly caught in pots, with minimal habitat impacts and bycatch.

More information

  • NSW Estuary General Fishery (192t in 2015)
  • SA Blue Crab Fishery (656t in 2015-16)

Blue swimmer crabs are caught in shallow water fisheries managed by different states. In SA, which has the largest take of blue swimmer crab in Australia, annual stock assessments and other information from the fishery indicates that the three main fished stocks are healthy. The NSW fishery that targets the species uses fishery information to inform the health of the stock, and indications are this stock is also healthy. Both fisheries have shown improvements in the health of blue swimmer crab populations due to the introduction of management measures that have allowed previously declining stocks to rebuild.

Blue swimmer crabs are mainly caught using crab pots or traps set over sandy or seagrass habitats. These pots are lowered to the seafloor and rest in place until they are lifted up for harvest, with little impact on habitat.

The equipment used is effective at targeting blue swimmer crabs, resulting in little else being caught, and if caught can be released alive. Neither fishery has reported significant interactions with endangered wildlife.

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Wild Caught

Region:
QLD, WA

Key Facts

  • There is some uncertainty regarding the health of blue swimmer crab stocks in both QLD and WA.
  • Some blue swimmer crab stocks in WA were previously overfished; it is likely strong management actions in place will support the continued rebuilding of these stocks.
  • Blue swimmer crabs are mainly caught in pots, with minimal habitat impacts and bycatch.
  • Interactions with pot ropes and turtles and dugongs has been recorded in QLD, which requires monitoring to quantify the impact on populations of these threatened species.

Note: Blue swimmer crabs sold with the Marine Stewardship Council blue tick label are caught in the Peel Harvey Estuary, and qualify for a green “Better Choice’ rating under AMCS Criteria.

More information

WA Shark Bay Blue Swimmer Crab Fishery (341t in 2015)
QLD Blue Swimmer Crab Fishery (357t in 2016)

Blue swimmer crabs are caught in a range of fisheries that are managed by different states.

In QLD, the majority of fishing is concentrated around the Sunshine Coast, Fraser region and Moreton Bay. There is currently some uncertainty on stock status and some concerns over declining catches of crabs and catch rates that require investigation in both states. While a stock assessment was conducted in 2015, the report was not publicly available for consideration.

The largest fishery in WA operates in Shark Bay; other smaller scale fisheries in WA operate along the west coast. An unusual warming event along the western coastline of WA severely affected blue swimmer populations from 2011-13. Management actions put in place have supported the rebuilding of the populations; while blue swimmer crab numbers are not yet fully recovered, it is expected that good management will ensure populations will be healthy in the near future. Other areas of the coastline where blue swimmer crabs are caught, such as Cockburn Sound, remain closed due to concerns over stock issues.

Blue swimmer crabs are mainly caught using crab pots or traps set over sandy or seagrass habitats. These pots are lowered to the seafloor and rest in place until they are lifted up for harvest, with little impact on habitat.

The equipment used is reasonably effective at targeting blue swimmer crabs, resulting in little else being caught, and if caught can mostly be released alive. Interactions with turtles and dugongs have been recorded in QLD, which requires further monitoring to quantify the impact on these populations.