Commercial crab fishing gear

Mud crabs and blue swimmer crabs

The main apparatus used by commercial fishers to catch mud crabs and blue swimmer crabs are wire-mesh crab pots and trawl-mesh (nylon) crab pots. Crab pots used to take mud crabs require escape vents to be installed.

The pots are set on the bottom, generally in estuarine or near-shore areas for mud crabs and near-shore and offshore areas for blue swimmer crabs.

Fishers operating in offshore waters usually set their gear in trotlines of about 10 pots per line. The trotline consists of pots attached to each other with a buoy set at one end of the line and a flagged buoy set at the other end.

The fisher usually checks them daily or on each rising tide, hauling them by hand-hydraulic winch, removing the catch, and then rebaiting and resetting them.

Spanner crabs

Commercial spanner crab fishers are required by law to use dillies – frames with netting stretched across them – no more than 1 square metre in size.

A bait bag containing 3 or 4 bait fish is attached to each dilly, and 10 or 15 dillies are clipped to a trotline by a short rope at about 50m intervals. Each trotline is marked by a flagged buoy.

The gear is left in the water for 30–60 minutes and then winched up. As the nets come aboard they are cleared of crabs. The undersized crabs are immediately returned to the water, and the legal-sized crabs are kept alive.

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