New mud crab regulations in place

Changes to strengthen regulations on mud crabs for both recreational and commercial crabbers have been gazetted.

A comprehensive review and consultation of management arrangements for the fishery was recently undertaken by the Mud Crab Fishery Management Advisory Committee (MCFMAC) and the Department of Primary Industry and Resources.

The new regulations include a suite of changes to both the Northern Territory (NT) Fisheries Regulations and the Mud Crab Fishery Management Plan, which bring the NT into line with neighbouring jurisdictions and will increase operational flexibility.

A commercial licensee must not possess unrestrained crabs at their camp or nominated place and a commercial licensee must not release undersize or CUC crabs within 200 m of their camp or nominated place.

The new rules for the Mud Crab Fishery will affect commercial and recreational fishers in the following ways:

  • The maximum number of pot openings has been increased from two to four (excluding any opening for emptying mud crabs from the pot or replacing bait)
  • Polyethylene mesh pots must have a stretched mesh size of not less than 50 mm to reduce ghost fishing of lost and abandoned pots
  • To be legal, a float that is attached to a pot must:
    • Be a specific marker buoy. This will prevent the use of items such as drink bottles, pool noodles and plastic oil drums which are easily lost and may adversely impact on the environment
    • Have a minimum diameter of not less than 100 mm. This allows for a more standardised marking system with adequate buoyancy and sufficient surface area for a label
    • For recreational fishers, the float must labelled with the first name, last name, and active phone number of the person using the gear
    • For commercial fishers, the float must be labelled with their ‘Vessel Identification Number’
  • The line or cord used to attach the complying float to the pot must have a diameter of not less than 6 mm to prevent pots being lost.
  • For commercial fishers, escape vents are now mandatory in wire mesh pots. This will allow undersize crabs to escape when a large crab enters the pot, and reduce the amount of time required to sort the catch.

Another important change is that recreational fishers must now keep the carapace and abdomen of the crabs intact unless they are being processed for immediate consumption or are stored at a person’s place of permanent residence.

This will assist enforcement officers in determining how many crabs a person has and prevents the practice of bagging and storing only crab meat.

Mudcrabs

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