Communique 15 December 2017

The second meeting of the crab working group was held by teleconference on 15 December 2017.

The working group reviewed a range of catch, effort and location data to gain a better understanding of what’s happening and to inform the best approach the reform process. Further analysis of available information on the crab fishery, including compliance/infringement matters, and traditional fishing and commercial catch by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be considered at the third meeting.

The working group considered a revised set of crab fishery objectives which set out the vision from all stakeholder groups for the fishery and will guide management of the fishery.  The working group advised that it will be important to understand how the objectives will influence management of the fishery and noted that this will become clearer as the operational components of the harvest strategy are developed.

The working group confirmed a number of proposals that will be the basis of the first round of engagement with all fishery stakeholders. The working group will consider a final draft of the discussion paper out-of-session to enable Fisheries Queensland to release it in early 2018.  Feedback on the draft objectives, management units and reform options will be critical in informing the development of a harvest strategy.

While members agreed in principle that prohibiting the take of C-grade crab could improve the value of the resource and may contribute to their sustainability, the working group noted that it would likely be difficult to describe in legislation and enforce. While some members were concerned about not proceeding with a prohibition at this time, it was acknowledged that developing a harvest strategy and moving to quota may have more of an impact than additional regulation.  Fisheries Queensland have agreed to reconsider this matter, if it is still a concern, once a harvest strategy has been operational for at least 12 months.

Fisheries Queensland discussed the steps and timeframes for reform, harvest strategy development and consultation during 2018. The working group noted that the importance of a range of consultation steps with broader fisheries stakeholders and the need to align with government processes.

The next meeting, to be held jointly with the Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel meeting, will be in late February or Early March.

Crab working group members

  • Fisheries Queensland - Chair- Mark Doohan
  • Commercial fishing - Ben Day, Peter Jackson, Anne Tooker, Keith Harris
  • Recreational fishing - David Bateman, George Bennetts, Wayne Bonham, Michael Detenon
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - James Aumend.