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Crab Pot Trials to Help Sustainability

30 April 2012, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - Fisheries Queensland observers are helping commercial mud crabbers trial a new device that aims to reduce bycatch of under-sized mud crabs and potentially increase catch rates of legal-sized mud crabs.

Fisheries Queensland observer coordinator Dr Julia Davies said the mud crab escape vents are now being tested by numerous commercial fishers throughout Queensland.

"The mud crab escape vents were developed by Dr Mark Grubert and his team at the Northern Territory Fisheries Division," Dr Davies said.

"Following success in the Northern Territory, Fisheries Queensland is working with fishers to trial the vents in the Queensland crab fishery.

"Results from the Northern Territory showed a reduction in the catch rate of under-sized crabs of up to 40% and an increase in catch rate of legal-sized males of up to 30%, so we're hoping to see a similar result for Queensland fishers.

"There are also other benefits, such as juvenile crabs can exit pots without being damaged or cannibalised by other crabs.

"Fewer under-sized crabs in pots also means less handling and post-release mortality, which is good for both crabs and crabbers."

This trial is just one way in which the Fisheries Queensland observer program is assisting commercial fishers to reduce bycatch and improve their profitability.

"The observer programme is a great way for commercial fishers to find out industry information and about new tools that can assist them in their operations," Dr Davies said.

"Fisheries observers monitor commercial fishing operations when they are taken onboard during fishing trips to collect data about catch, discards and any interactions with species of conservation interest. They also help fishers by providing information on best practice methods.

"We are keen to have more commercial fishers volunteer for the program so they can participate in trials of new technology and help inform fisheries management decisions through sharing their fishing experiences."

If you are interested in becoming a part of the Fisheries Observer Programme and taking part in the mud crab escape vent trial, please contact Fisheries Queensland on 13 25 23.

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