Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

A codend of crabs: Fishery-independent monitoring of pre-recruit blue swimmer crabs in Moreton Bay (#81)

Anna Garland 1
  1. Fisheries Queensland, Dutton Park, QUEENSLAND, Australia

Blue swimmer crab (Portunus armartus) is widely distributed around the Australian coastline. In Queensland, this species is found on sandy and muddy substrates in shallow coastal and estuarine waters along the entire coast. Targeted by commercial and recreational fishers using pots and caught as a permitted by-product in commercial demersal trawls, the Queensland blue swimmer crab fishery primarily operates in the states southeast. Concerns of heavy fishing pressure, an expanding fishery and limited research prompted monitoring to help ensure a continued sustainable harvest. Fishery-independent monitoring of pre-recruit blue swimmer crabs in Moreton Bay was identified as a suitable tool to investigate and better understand changes in population structure through time. The design of the fishery-independent survey is based on methods from published research. It captures the pulse of pre-recruit blue swimmer crabs resulting from the spring spawning event, conducted during the optimal period in Moreton Bay, where recruitment is at its peak and there are limited impacts of dispersal, reduced catchability and harvest. Monitoring of pre-recruit blue swimmer crabs commenced in 2006 and apart from a hiatus in 2016 has been conducted annually. Resulting biological data is analysed using a GLM with negative binomial distribution to estimate an index of pre-recruit abundance. The index has been calculated 15 times over the monitoring period, offering a long time series of data from a consistent design. An important piece of empirical evidence used in state and national stock status and periodic assessments of the north-eastern Australian biological stock. Logical next steps would be to increase the value of the survey through investigation into potential further data uses. But what does this look like?