This fishery moved from input to output controls in 2008. As a result, fishing patterns have changed: effort in the fishery is now less dispersed over the grounds; high grading has become common-place, with consequent reduced CPUE; there has been a radical decrease in under-size crabs. The observed changes could be interpreted as either an outcome of overexploitation, or inadequate sampling. Clearly, there is an urgent need for this to be clarified.
Size and sex ratios of crystal crabs are related to their depth and longshore distribution and
inadequate sampling can provide misleading data. The cost of increasing data collection which has
traditionally been done at sea by technical officers from the Department of Fisheries would be
prohibitive for a small fishery such as this one. The solution is for industry to collect the data in the course of fishing by using fishermen to sample a small number of pots on each line that is hauled. Meetings have been arranged to discuss how fishermen might assist with the sampling and all quota holders in the fishery have expressed an enthusiastic willingness to participate.
This project will work with licence holders, Industry representatives and Department of Fisheries
representatives, to develop the most effective and efficient means of sampling the catch, recording the data, and training the fishermen who will become responsible for its collection.