Just as crabbing season is about to get under way, a potential threat has emerged we need to keep an eye out for at Thompson Beach – the Asian Paddle Crab.
Asian Paddle Crabs (Charybdis japonica) are not native to Australia. They are an aggressive crab species that can compete with our native Blue Swimmer Crabs. Asian Paddle Crabs can also be carriers of a disease that can poison humans and spread a disease called white spot syndrome (WSS) to other crustaceans.
A male Asian Paddle Crab was recently caught by a commercial fisher north of Outer Harbor.
“We are asking all fishers – commercial, recreational and charter – who are out on the water to keep an eye out for this unwelcome species,” said Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone. “We do not want the Asian Paddle Crab to establish in South Australia – if fishers see any unusual species, please report them immediately to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522.”
For more information on the Asian Paddle Crab including how to identify the invasive species (note that colour may vary from above), click here for a PIRSA factsheet.
On a related note, when crabbing at Thompson Beach this season remember there are strict limits on how many blue swimmer crabs can be taken. The personal daily bag limit is 20; which is a combined limit with sand crabs.
The minimum size that can be taken is 11 cm measured across the carapace from the base of the largest spines. Any females with external eggs are to be returned to the water immediately.
For further details, see this page on the PIRSA web site.
The fines for ignoring catch/size limits are significant if you’re caught (up to $20,000) – and there’s a good chance of that happening as Fisheries officers are often at Thompson Beach checking on catches. Many fines were issued last season, including in this incident.
Also take care when crabbing to not damage seagrass beds, beach and tidal flat areas. Try to avoid areas where migratory shorebirds are present – they’ve started arriving back at Thompson Beach and deserve a good rest and feed after their epic journeys.
Image credit: PIRSA.