Proposed new spider crab catch limit

The Victorian Fisheries Authority is inviting public comments on new, reduced catch and possession limits for spider crabs across Victorian waters.

You can find the draft Fisheries (Spider Crab) Notice 2020 and Consultation Plan here.

If you would like to make a submission on the draft notice, please email your comments to spidercrabs@vfa.vic.gov.au by 27 October 2020.

In making a submission, unless the person making the submission indicates to the contrary, they will be consenting to their submission, including their name only, being published on the Victorian Fisheries Authority's website for 90 days from the conclusion of the consultative process.

This new catch limit - halved from 30 to 15 - better balances spider crab values and more equitably shares spider crabs among fishers and other stakeholders.

Spider crabs are valued by many Victorians for different reasons, including recreational diving, fishing, conservation and tourism.

Recreational fishing for spider crabs has developed in recent years. Recent research undertaken by the VFA indicates spider crab fishing is valued by parts of Victoria’s multicultural community as an enjoyable day out, with the vast majority using the crabs they catch to cook and eat.

Spider crabs currently fall within the general crab catch limit and the VFA believes it is now appropriate to set a new, spider-crab-specific limit that better balances their recreational diving, fishing and tourism values.

The proposed new, reduced bag limit is more consistent with the recreational catch limits that apply to spider crabs in New South Wales and Tasmania. The Notice does not affect the other recreational fishing rules that apply to spider crabs in Victoria.

There is no evidence that spider crabs have been overfished and the new bag limit is not designed to address fishery sustainability issues.

A broad species distribution coupled with a small area and time in which fishing occurs suggests the present impact on spider crabs is unlikely to cause the stock to become overfished.

Regardless of this, the VFA is interested in better understanding giant spider crab biology and is continuing research in this area. You can read more about our research here.

Alongside the notice, the VFA is also working with other agencies on management and education initiatives to improve amenity values ahead of next year’s spider crab aggregation.