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.

  • 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 0.475 crabs per pot/fisher/day 
    • Hinchinbrook ranked 14th in the state for Mud Crab Catch Rates
    • Commercial Catch rate similar between 2016 and 2017 with 0.4kg/pot and 0.5kg/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 Mackay 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 Hinchinbrook 
    • Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys reported that 77% 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 Mud Crab catch reported in 2017 was by visitors
    • Hinchinbrook ranked 12th in the state for the number of crabs released in 2017


  • Assessment

    Community Assessment and Discussion Advised

    Hinchinbrook is a very visitor heavy fishery, including a significant presence of southern visitors. Tourism is important to the region. The recreational fishing experience of visitors is similar to Gladstone one of the largest commercial crab fisheries. Discussions of allocations is not for this forum, however on available data, there is a case to assess the experiences of visitors and if the current crab fishery experience influences their decisions on length of stay or visit again.


  • Forecast


    • Catch rates will likely be similar with catches around 1 legal crab every 10 pots.
    • Poor recruitment in recent years has limited Mud Crab numbers in the region. Until there is a larger recruitment event, conditions will remain difficult for fishing
    • Recruitment will be assessed mid year


    NOTE: Limited take means intermittent fishing for crabs is advised.

  • 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 Crabs in Hinchinbrook (see Area Fished section) represents 7.39% share of the total statewide catch. Monitoring is ongoing in 2018.

    • Commercial Catch rate similar between 2016 and 2017 with 0.4kg/pot and 0.5kg/pot reported, respectively
    • Number of active licenses in 2017 was 18, with between 18 and 49 active over the past decade
    • Commercial catch in 2017 was 64.3T, compared to 62.7T in 2016.


    Hinchinbrook Mud Crab Commercial Catch Dashboard


  • 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.

    • No sizing data is available for Crabs
    • Fishers reported an overall catch rate of 0.475 Mud Crabs/pot/fisher/day in 2017
    • 77% of crabs reported in 2017 were released (though all these will be juvenile and female crabs)
    • Peak periods for Mud Crab catches in 2017 was during June
    • 60% of the total catch was reported by visitors


    Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys monitoring 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:

    Hinchinbrook Queensland Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys
    Hinchinbrook Queensland Fisheries Commercial Data

  • Fishing Area

    Area Assessed

    Mud Crabs are caught throughout the Hinchinbrook region. Commercial catches are assessed on Grids I19 and I20 which includes the Hinchbrook Channel net free zone.