- Better Choice
- Crystal crabs are a deep-sea crab found only off Western Australia.
- There are no immediate concerns for the population of crystal crabs caught in the fishery, although there is limited information on the species in general.
- Scientific surveys on crab numbers are underway, and fishery managers are developing improvements to the overall management of the fishery.
- Crystal crabs are mainly caught in pots on longlines, with independent observers confirming minimal habitat impacts and bycatch of other species in the fishery.
Crystal crabs, commonly sold as ‘Snow Crabs’, are a large crab with firm, sweet meat. Look for the origin of Crystal crab when purchasing, as many of the frozen legs sold in retails markets are imported. As one of the most expensive crabs available, Crystal Crabs are usually steamed or boiled and served relatively unadorned to allow the meat to be fully appreciated. They may be made into a salad or seafood cocktail, or served as a standalone feature with sauces or other accompaniments.
- WA West Coast Deep Sea Crustacean Managed Fishery (154t in 2017)
Crystal crabs are a deep-sea crab found only off the Western Australian coastline. While there are no immediate causes for concern around crystal crab numbers, there is limited information on the species in general, and fishery managers have noted concerns around some minor fishery metrics. Improvements are being made to the fishery’s management, including scientific surveys to assess the health of the crystal crab stock. As there are active steps being taken to address knowledge gaps and no major indications of concern, the catch of crystal crabs is currently rated as Green, ‘Better Choice’. This will require monitoring to ensure that new management actions are effective.
Keeping ‘berried’ females, those crabs carrying eggs, is prohibited in the fishery, which can protect the species from fishing pressure.
Crystal crabs are caught using crab pots on longlines over mud and sand. The pots are lowered to the seafloor and remain in place all year round, lifted up for harvest and then returned to the bottom. Impacts on habitat are likely minimal given the fishing method.
Independent observer coverage in the fishery provides confidence that the ropes used pose little risk of entanglement to whales, as has been an issue in other crab and lobster fisheries. Observer coverage also shows that the capture of other species is minimal, which means there is little discarding and waste in the fishery.