Latin names: Portunus armatus
Common Names: Crab
Wild Caught - Australia
- 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.
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.