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X Marks the Crab Spot

AUSTRALIA - Queensland fishers are finding plenty of seafood treasures this month, with large crab catches being reported up and down the coast.

Mud crabs and blue swimmers are potting well, with some spanner crabs also being caught.

Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol education officer Karl Roebuck from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries said it was important to ensure crab pots were marked correctly at all times of the year.

"There´s nothing worse than someone taking your pots by mistake, or worse, on purpose," Mr Roebuck said.

"Ensuring your pots or dillies are properly labelled with the name and address of the owner reduces the chances of this happening.

"People also need to be aware of the number of crab pots they are using. The total number of crab pots or dillies, or a combination of the two, should not exceed four per person," Mr Roebuck said.

"Also, apparatus which is not attached to a jetty or a tree should have a light-coloured surface float attached which is not less than 15 cm in dimension, with the name of the owner clearly inscribed on it.

"Anyone caught unlawfully interfering with fishing apparatus will face an on-the-spot fine of $225, while people caught stealing crabs or crab pots will be referred to police for prosecution.

"It´s worth brushing up on the rules and regulations to ensure fishers are familiar with the minimum size limits and no take restrictions for crabs.

"Female mud and blue swimmer crabs are totally protected, as are egg-bearing spanner crabs," Mr Roebuck said.

"Male mud crabs have a minimum size limit of 15 cm, while male blue swimmers have a minimum size limit of 11.5 cm. Spanner crabs have a minimum size limit of 10 cm.

He said fisheries regulations were in place for a reason - to protect and conserve Queensland´s fish stocks.

Failure to comply with these regulations has detrimental, long-term effects on stocks and to law-abiding recreational and commercial fishers in the area, said Mr Roebuck.