'Citizen scientists' sought to assist new mud crab research project

News release | 14-Dec-2020

A new research project to better understand mud crab populations is underway and scientists would like recreational and commercial fishers to participate.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Principal Fisheries Scientist Dr Julie Robins said fishers are prohibited from possessing female mud crabs in Queensland, but that fishers could help us to understand more about them.

“The data on the mud crab in Queensland is limited,” Dr Robins said.

“We know they are subject to heavy fishing pressure in some regions and to black marketing, and their populations are affected by environmental events like floods and prolonged droughts with excessive temperatures.

“But we don’t know enough about many aspects of the mud crab life cycle in Queensland (east coast and Gulf of Carpentaria), such as how many mud crabs there are, how many females compared to males, and where females go to spawn.”

“We want to identify where migrating females release their eggs and what proportion of these females return to estuaries post-spawning.”

“Fishers in Queensland and New South Wales can help by reporting sightings of egg-bearing female mud crabs to us.”

Dr Robins said the research project will help to assess and sustainably manage Queensland mud crab fisheries into the future.

The project aims to:

  • Examine the scale and extent of genetic mixing of mud crabs in South East Queensland and northern New South Wales
  • Tag mud crabs to provide regional estimates of growth, movement and natural mortality, which are important factors in quantitative stock assessments
  • Develop a cost-effective method to monitor key biological information on regional mud crab populations.

Dr Robins said an ongoing research and monitoring program would bring mud crabs into line with other fishery species regularly monitored by the Queensland Government and also inform decision-making under a harvest strategy.

The four-year research project being led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is co-funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and is in collaboration with Central Queensland University and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries.

Fishers are reminded that it is prohibited under the Fisheries Act 1994 to possess female mud crabs. 

To report an egg bearing female mud crab, take a photo, record the location and date, and report your observations via email to info@daf.qld.gov.au or by phoning 13 25 23.

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Media contact: DAF Media, media@daf.qld.gov.au