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Show Bioregions

Crab, blue swimmer

(Bluey, blue manna crab, crabs)
Portunus armatus; formerly P. pelagicus
Minimum size (mm)
127
Carapace width
Daily bag limit
10
West Coast Bioregion
20
South, Gascoyne and North coast bioregions
Boat limit
20
West Coast Bioregion - see 'Additional rules and information' for details
40
South, Gascoyne and North coast bioregions - see 'Additional rules and information' for details
Closed seasons

The Peel Inlet (including the channel entrance), Harvey Estuary, Dawesville Cut and all man-made waterways are closed to all crab fishing during this period.

The closures protects crab breeding stocks, allowing females to spawn before the fishery reopens.

Restrictions

The Cockburn Sound crab fishery is closed to protect the blue swimmer crab breeding stock.

This closure is an important measure for the recovery of the crab stock after research showed a significant decline in the number of crabs in the sound due to environmental and biological factors.

The fishery will be closely monitored to check the progress of recovery. 

Licences

Fishing for this species from a powered boat requires a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL).

An RFBL is required for any fishing activity from a powered boat including:

  • line fishing (handline, rod and line, squid jigging);
  • catching crabs;
  • spearfishing;
  • catching octopus;
  • dip-netting for prawns; and
  • fishing by diving and/or snorkelling.

You require an RFBL for these fishing activities even if you are returning your catch to the water.

You also require an RFBL when a powered boat is used to transport your catch or fishing gear to or from a land-based fishing location, including an island or sandbar.

You don’t need an RFBL if you are:

  • Fishing from a boat without a motor; such as a row boat.
  • Fishing from a licensed fishing tour operator’s vessel or fishing charter boat.
  • Fishing with a person who holds an RFBL.
  • Taking part in a fishing activity for which you already hold a current licence, such as rock lobster or abalone fishing. For example, if you have a licence to fish for rock lobster and that is the only fishing activity that is taking place on the boat, you don’t need an RFBL.

How to get a licence

Apply for a new licence or renew an existing licence online.  

Alternatively, application forms are available from Department of Fisheries offices and online.

Note: If you are boat fishing for demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion you must carry a release weight on board.

Additional rules and information

Size limits allow fish to reach maturity to complete their breeding cycle. Measure all your fish and return undersize or excess fish alive to the water.

Bag limits assist in sharing the resource and contribute to the sustainable management of the State’s fish stocks.

A daily bag limit is the maximum number of fish that you may take or bring onto land in any 24-hour period, from midnight to midnight (except from midday to midday for marron, prawns and when recreational netting).

For rules about fish kept and stored beyond 24 hours, see 'Possession limit' for details.

Individual species daily bag limit

This is the maximum number of an individual species that you may take within your total mixed species daily bag limit.

For demersal finish, large pelagic finish and nearshore/esturarine finish, an individual daily bag limit for a group of species applies to each of the individual species in that group. 

For example, emperors (except blue-lined emperor) have an individual daily bag limit of three in all bioregions except the West Coast. They are also within a mixed species daily bag limit of five (across all demersal finfish for these bioregions).

  • 5 fish = 3 red-throat emperor (species has an individual species bag limit of 3) and 2 spangled emperor
    OR
  • 5 fish = 3 spangled emperor (species has an individual species bag limit of 3) and 2 red-throat emperor.

Mixed species daily bag limit

This is the combined maximum number of fish of any species within one category (such as demersal, large pelagic, nearshore/estuarine) that you may take.

For example, demersal finfish in the West Coast Bioregion has a total mixed bag limit of two fish:

Within the mixed daily bag limit, you cannot exceed the stated individual species daily bag limit. For example, you may only take a maximum of one coral trout per day.

For freshwater finfish, baitfish, crustceans, molluscs and other invertebrates - where species are displayed together as a group, rock lobsters for example - the bag limit applies to the group as a whole.

To protect fish and their habitats in key environments, some activities are banned. In particular you are not allowed to:

  • use fish traps or ‘pots’ of any kind (except lobster pots and octopus trigger traps – see the website for further information);
  • use dredges;
  • obstruct any bay, inlet, river, creek or any tidal or inland waters so that fish are enclosed, left stranded, destroyed or wasted;
  • be in possession of explosives or noxious substances (for example, fish poisons);
  • ‘jag’ (deliberately foul-hook) fish;
  • use commercial fishing gear of any kind;
  • use set-lines; or
  • attach fish hooks to lobster pots, anchors and anchor lines or moorings.

Note: Fishing tackle stores may carry gear that does not meet WA legal requirements. In particular, the use of crab traps, ‘opera house’ traps and bait jigs with more than three hooks are illegal in WA waters. Please check before you make a purchase.

This is the maximum number of crabs you may carry on a boat at any one time.

You are allowed the boat limit when there are two or more people on board.

If it is a powered boat, two or more people on board must each hold a Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL). If there is only one person holding an RFBL on board a powered boat, only the daily bag limit of the person who has the licence applies.

For example, in the West Coast Bioregion, there is a daily boat limit of 20 blue swimmer crabs.

  • If the vessel is a powered boat and only one person on board holds an RFBL, there can only be a maximum of 10 blue swimmer crabs on board.
  • If the vessel is a powered boat and two or more people hold an RFBL, there can only be a maximum of 20 blue swimmer crabs on board.

There is limit of 10 drop nets per boat.

The FishWatch phone line provides a quick and easy way to report sightings or evidence of:

  • illegal fishing;
  • aquatic pests; and
  • aquatic diseases (including fish kills).

Illegal fishing could include someone netting in the river, exceeding their bag or possession limits, taking undersize fish, fishing in a closed area, having more fishing gear in the water than they should or illegally selling recreationally caught fish.

Before you call, note:

  • How many people you saw.
  • Who they were. Did you hear/know any of their names?
  • What they were doing.
  • Where it happened; the nearest known landmark or intersection of the closest road.
  • What type of equipment, cars or boats, registration numbers and descriptions.
  • When it happened: time and date. Is it something that is happening right now, while you are making a report, or was it something you observed previously?

Your reports are treated in strict confidence. We recommend you do not approach anyone you think is involved in illegal activity relating to fish or fishing.

If you don’t wish to contact us through FishWatch you can pass information to your local Fisheries office or to Fisheries Officers.

Call FishWatch now - 1800 815 507.

Male blue swimmer crabs
Males are coloured a rich blue on the legs and claws. The V-shaped abdominal flap on the underside of a male crab is narrow and angular (see picture below). 

Female blue swimmer crabs
Females are usually a mottled brown, and the abdominal flap is broad, rounded and darker in colour (see picture below). 

Berried females have a spongy mass of eggs around this flap (see 'Totally protected crabs').

Interfering with another person's fishing gear or catch, selling recreationally caught fish and other similar offences can result in penalties of up to $400,000, imprisonment for four years and loss of boats, vehicles and equipment.

Offenders may also lose the privilege of engaging in a licensed fishing activity.

All uncooked crabs must be kept in whole form, unless being prepared for immediate consumption. 

Any mutilation of sea creatures is an offence and carries a maximum fine of $5,000 for an individual.

You can legally catch crabs by:

  • Hand.
  • Wire hook – hand-held blunt, wire hooks must not be capable of piercing the crab.
  • Drop net – no wider than 1.5 metres in diameter. There is a maximum limit of 10 drop nets per person or 10 drop nets per boat, regardless of how many people are aboard. OR
  • Scoop net – hand-held wire or plastic scoop nets must be bowl-shaped, made of rigid mesh that is not capable of entangling a crab, have an internal diameter no bigger than 375 mm and a depth of no more than 210 mm.

Diving for crabs is also permitted.

Catching crabs by any other method, including fishing nets, prawn trawls or dip nets is illegal – any crab caught this way must be released.

The use or crab rakes is prohibited.

You must not catch crabs for anyone else.

In WA, licences are required for:

  • use of a powered boat to fish or to transport your catch or fishing gear to or from a land- based fishing location (Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence);
  • rock lobster;
  • abalone;
  • marron;
  • South-west (south of 29°S) freshwater angling; and
  • net fishing (set, haul and throw nets).

The licence covers a 12-month period from the date of issue.

With the exception of the above, you do not require a licence to fish from the shore.

You must produce your licence when requested by a Fisheries and Marine Officer. 

How to get a licence

Apply for a new licence or renew an existing licence online. Alternatively, application forms are available from Department of Fisheries offices and online.

Fishing licences issues in other states are not valid in Western Australia.

Different type of marine protected areas exist in WA waters (to three nautical miles off the coast) and special fishing rules apply.

Information about marine protected areas is provided through our location search – click on the 'View map' link at the top of this page or search for your location.

Marine protected areas include marine reserves, fish habitat protection areas and other fishing closures such as wreck sites. Most of these areas are subject to additional rules.

Marine reserves, which include marine nature reserves, marine parks and marine management areas, are managed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

In addition to marine reserves, there are a number of fish habitat protection areas and other closed areas managed by the Department of Fisheries.

Measure each crab across the widest part of the shell, from tip to tip of the carapace spikes.

Measure accurately using a crab gauge available from tackle shops. Using anything else to measure with, such as a drink can or ruler, can lead to mistakes.

Undersize crabs or egg-carrying ('berried') females are totally protected. They must be returned to the water immediately, before attempting to catch another crab.

You can tell a female is berried because she will have a spongy mass of eggs attached underneath (see picture below).