Mud Crabs are a prized table species for recreational fishers, the general public creating great competition catches. Crabs are the most important commercial estuary species with Bundaberg representing 7.9% of the state wide catch.

  • Overview


    Crystal Bowl GBR is aiming to examine 3 core measures across a wide range of species in the region:

    • Fishing experience (how many fish per trip)
    • Quality of the fish (size of fish)
    • Community attitudes (the number of legal size fish kept or released)


    Fishing Experience

    • Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys reports catch rate of 0.7 crabs per pot/fisher/day 
    • Bundaberg ranked 4th in the state for Mud Crab Catch Rates
    • Commercial Catch rate was similar between 2016 and 2017 with 0.43 kg/pot and 0.40 kg/pot reported, respectively


    Quality of the Crabs

    • As Crabs are not measured at boat ramp surveys, no data exists on the quality of the Crabs in the Bundaberg fishery


    Community Attitudes

    • Competition for Crabs is high within all sections of the local fishing community.
    • Crabs are one of the most important Commercial species in Bundaberg
    • Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys reported that 61% of Crabs caught in 2017 were released however, this is likely to be due to the proportion of juvenile or female crabs in the total catch
    • 60% of crabs reported in 2017 were caught by locals
    • Bundaberg ranked 1st in the state for the release rate of mud crabs


  • Assessment

    Limited Take For Consumption Advised


    Cairns does not seem to support the level of harvest of the larger crab regions, catch rates for legal crabs in the commercial and recreational fishers are well down relative to other regions.

    Conditions in the Crab fishery are unlikely to improve unless there are ideal conditions for recruitment.

    Heavy harvesting of Mud Crabs is not recommended, but a limited take for consumption is supported based on available data.

  • Forecast


    Forecasts for Mud Crabs are uncertain due to the unknown impact of the Cyclone on habitat and nutrient levels.

    Recruitment conditions may have been positive in 2017, indicating that catches may improve during 2019.


  • Qld FIsheries Boat Ramp Surveys - General Fishers

    Monitoring of Recreational Catch by Qld Fisheries

    Queensland Fisheries monitors boat ramps up and down the coast as a part of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy. Fishers in Bundaberg regularly report catching Mud Crab with most being returned to the water. Monitoring began in 2017 and continues in 2018.

    • Mud Crabs were the  most commonly reported species in Bundaberg in 2017
    • No sizing data is available for Crabs
    • Fishers reported an overall catch rate of 0.77 Mud Crabs/pot/fisher/day in 2017
    • 61% of crabs reported in 2017 were released (though all these will be juvenile and female crabs)
    • Peak periods for Mud Crab catches in 2017 were during March to July and November 


    Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys monitoring dashboard


  • Commercial Fishing

    Commercial Fishing Catch

    Queensland Fisheries monitors commercial catches up and down the coast. Commercial fishers are required to maintain logbooks of catch and report quarterly. The commercial catch of Mud Crab in Bundaberg (see Area Fished section) represented 7.96% of the statewide catch in 2017. Monitoring is ongoing in 2018.

    • Commercial Catch rate is similar between 2016 and 2017 with 0.43 kg/pot and 0.40 kg/pot reported, respectively
    • Number of active licenses in 2017 was 34, with between 26 and 35 active over the past decade
    • Commercial catch in 2017 was 69.3T, compared to 80T in 2016.


    Bundaberg Mud Crab Commercial Catch Dashboard





  • Recruitment

    Monitoring of Mud Crab Recruitment

    Recruitment is the success rate of juvenile fish surviving past the larval stage. While the recruitment of Mud Crabs is not monitored recruitment has a strong correlation to the Southern Oscillation Index.

    • Good recruitment conditions in 2011 and 2013/14 resulted in high CPUE 2013-2016
    • Poor recruitment since has impacted stock levels
    • 2017 is a positive recruitment year based on the SOI with catches potentially to improve in 2019.



  • Monitoring

    Monitoring of Mud Crabs

    Data for this assessment has been sourced from:

    • Bureau of Meterology
    • Queensland Fisheries


    Here are links to all the monitoring pages for Mud Crabs:

    Bundaberg Queensland Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys
    Bundaberg Queensland Fisheries Commercial Data

  • Fishing Area

    Area Assessed

    Mud Crabs are caught throughout the Cairns Region.