National Workshop to mitigate theft of estuarine pots.

Project Number:



Professional Fishermen’s Association Inc (PFAI)

Principal Investigator:

Tricia Beatty

Project Status:


FRDC Expenditure:



Adoption, Industry


in 2014, the NSWFRAB identified as a R,D&E priority, research into anti-theft of mud crab (and other estuarine) pots. The FRDC Board determined that the research priority would require a National Workshop to ascertain whether research into this issue was feasible. The NSWFRAB requested that the PFA provide a quote for the facilitation and organisation of the National Workshop. The PFA requested that the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) provide a costing for the facilitation of an anti-crime based workshop titled ”the National Workshop for the Anti-theft of Estuarine Pots” to be hosted at the Sydney Fish Markets. The UTS were chosen to facilitate as they are able to demonstrate a unique ‘multi-driver’ or ‘holistic’ approach whilst bringing the benefit of engaging diverse actors to facilitate an innovative and evidence-based, collaborative workshop environment. Initial discussions have indicated that the issue stems from: 1. Unlicensed fishers stealing for commercial sale “shamateurs” 2. Opportunistic amateur fishers – due to the visability of the pot 3. Fellow commercial fishers It was also identified that this was an issue faced by both commercial and amateur fishers who utilise estuarine pots (as an example of the across sector impact please see a recent article in NSW local paper http://www.portstephensexaminer.com.au/story/3566048/something-fishy-harbour-crab-theft/?cs=776) The NSW FRAB believes that there will be a Flow of Benefit to QLD and NT as it is understood that these areas are also facing similar issues with the theft of commercial and recreational estuarine pots.


1. empower and provide tools to attendees to find innovative solutions

2. Framing the problem in a way that enables generation of solutions

3. Create solution directions to a complex and wicked problem

4. A Plan of Action that includes recommendations for further work to deal with the issues across all relevant stakeholder groups.

Estuarine Pot Theft Solution - National Workshop Report

Final Report
Author(s):Patricia Beatty & Rodger Watson
Date Published:November 2016
The NSW Professional Fishermen’s Association in conjunction with the Fisheries Research Development Corporation organised an intensive workshop with a wide representation of participants from across Australia aimed at addressing issue of theft of and from estuarine pots.  Facilitated by the Designing Out Crime Research Centre, the workshop demonstrated a unique multi-driver approach by addressing the problem space in an innovative and collaborative manner.

The theft of and from estuarine pots is a serious issue facing both the NSW commercial fishing and recreational fishing communities. Mud crabs are highly prized and fetch high prices in seafood markets. This high price drives a thriving black market for mud crabs which is contributed to by both recreational and commercial fishers.  A discussion of possible solution directions is necessary with the rising incidences, and new and innovative measures will be required to prevent or discourage theft of mud crabs from estuarine
pots in the future. The Workshop was used to examine what pathways exist and possible mitigative measures to reduce the likelihood of the theft.

The Workshop identified 17 recommendations that focused on Justice, community awareness, stewardship, trust and innovation. The recommendations are still conceptual and require further development, but give a clear sense of the priority areas and issues identified.The Workshop agreed that the recommendations be presented a potential research directions and provide “solid starting points”.
Keywords:  Theft, innovation, Scylla serrata, Portunus pelagicus