Commercial crab species
Commercial fishers mostly use baited crab pots to catch mud crabs.
Most mud crabs are caught between December and June in intertidal waters. The major mud-crabbing areas are Moreton Bay, the Narrows (near Gladstone), Hinchinbrook Channel and Princess Charlotte Bay. Mud crab catch in the Gulf of Carpentaria typically contributes less than 20% to the total Queensland catch.
Mud crabs are an important species to the tourist and hospitality trade. They are sold into local and interstate markets.
Blue swimmer crabs
Commercial fishers mainly use baited collapsible pots. Blue swimmer crabs are also taken by prawn trawling.
About 80% of the blue swimmer crab harvest is taken between November and May in water deeper than 3m, mainly in Moreton Bay and Hervey Bay. Crabs are also harvested in nearby offshore waters in depths up to 60m.
Most blue swimmers are sold within southern Queensland, but some are sold interstate. There is virtually no overseas export. The main product form is fresh-chilled, with a portion of the catch sold as crab meat and processed derivatives.
Commercial spanner-crabbers are required to use dillies.
Spanner crabs are harvested all year round, except during the spawning season from 1 November to 15 December. Most of the Queensland catch is taken in deep oceanic waters south of Yeppoon.
The fishery is managed through a total allowable catch, with individual transferable quotas issued to fishers.
The bulk of the catch is exported as live product to East Asia, mainly Taiwan. The crabs are cooled to about 15°C and packed in polystyrene boxes for transportation by air. A small amount of spanner crab is also sold as chilled cooked product on local and interstate markets.