Giant crab

Image from Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks 2014

Distribution

Giant crabs are found throughout southern Australia from eastern Victoria, across to Albany in Western Australia, and including Tasmania and South Australia.

Stock structure

Giant crab are considered a single biological fish stock across their range in southern Australia. The status of giant crab was assessed at the scale of this Southern Australian biological stock in the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report 2014.

The Victorian giant crab fishery has two zones: Eastern and Western. Commercial fishing for giant crab is currently only undertaken in the Western Zone.

Annual catch

Sector

Estimated Victorian catch

Commercial (2015/16 fishing year)

8.9 tonnes

Recreational

no recreational take

Indigenous (i.e. 2015/16 customary fishing permits)

none

Estimated total

8.9 tonnes

Stock status

The table below summarises and explains the status and management of giant crab based on: 

  1. Stock status: classification of the biological status of the southern Australian stock as at 2013, taken from the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014. This biological stock is affected by fishing and management beyond Victorian waters.
    Read more about the SAFS assessment approach and classification system.
  2. Management settings: overview of current management arrangements in Victorian waters, including any recent changes that may affect stock status.
  3. Risk management category: The Victorian Fisheries Authority's overall, qualitative assessment of current risk to stock status in Victorian waters taking into account management arrangements, based on the best information currently available:

    Red Red - current management measures may not be sufficient to prevent stock depletion
    Amber Amber - current management measures expected to mitigate risk of stock depletion
    Green Green - stock status not of concern under current management

Stock status is based only on sustainability and is for the entire biological stock. Management settings and risk management category also consider the steps taken to address stock status, and only apply to the portion of the stock in Victorian waters.

Management settings are also influenced by social and economic factors, and can take some time to affect a stock's status. This can depend on biological and environmental factors as well as the type and level of management changes implemented. 

Stock status (2013 data)

Key management settings in Victoria

Risk management category in Victoria

Classification:

transitional – depleting

Victorian commercial harvest is predominantly managed by limited entry licensing, a total allowable commercial catch (TACC) and restrictions on size and gear.

This is currently a very small fishery in Victoria, with few operators targeting giant crab as their primary catch. 

The stock, as in South Australia and Tasmania, has been declining for the past ten years.  In response, the TACC has been significantly reduced over the last five years from 25 tonnes in 2009-10  to 10.5 tonnes for 2015-16. The CPUE, which is used as a proxy for stock, has been stable for the past four years.

Read more here about the fishing methods and rules for giant crab in Victoria.

Amber

Evidence:

Collectively, the following data provide evidence that this stock is transitional – depleting i.e.deteriorating but not yet recruitment overfished.

  • catch per unit effort (CPUE)
  • catch size composition
  • biological information such as modelled biomass and egg production

The management measures implemented in Victoria are expected to mitigate risk to stock status, noting the low level fishing activity, reduced TACCs and stable CPUEs. Further information is currently being collected on this fishery. 

Basis for stock status classification (from SAFS 2014)

Biomass assessment

SAFS 2014 concluded that the biomass of this stock declined over the period of 2009-2013 but was not yet considered to be recruitment overfished.

Fishing pressure assessment

SAFS 2014 concluded that the level of fishing pressure at that time was likely to cause the Victorian part of the stock to become recruitment overfished within the next few years. 

Read more here about the assessment of Giant crab stock status as at 2013 in the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.

More information

More information on the commercial giant crab fishery in Victorian be found at Commercial giant crab fishery.