Mud Crabs are a prized table species for recreational fishers, the general public creating great competition catches. Crabs are an important commercial estuary species with the Whitsundays representing 1.9% 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 
    • The Whitsundays ranked 8th in the state for Mud Crab Catch Rates in 2017
    • Commercial Catch rates were similar between 2016 and 2017 with 0.49kg/pot and 0.48kg/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 Whitsundays fishery


    Community Attitudes

    • Competition for Crabs is high within all sections of the local fishing community
    • Qld Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys reported that 72% 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
    • 68% of crabs reported were caught by visitors
    • The Whitsundays ranked 14th in the state for the number of crabs released 


  • Forecast

    Limited Take For Consumption Advised

    • Catch rates will likely be down slightly with catches around 1 legal crab every 5 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 is poor


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

    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 the Whitsundays (see Area Fished section) represents 1.9% share of the total statewide catch. Monitoring is ongoing in 2018.

    • Commercial Catch rates were similar between 2016 and 2017 with 0.49kg/pot and 0.48kg/pot reported, respectively
    • Number of active licenses in 2017 was 13, with between 6 and 16 active over the past decade
    • Commercial catch in 2017 was 16.6T, compared to 21T in 2016.


    Whitsundays 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 the Whitsundays regularly report catching Mud Crab with most being returned to the water. Monitoring began in 2017 and continues in 2018.

    • Mud Crabs were the 8th most commonly reported species in the Whitsundays in 2017
    • No sizing data is available for Crabs
    • Fishers reported an overall catch rate of 0.7 crabs/pot/fisher/day in 2017
    • 72% of crabs reported in 2017 were released (though all these will be juvenile and female crabs)
    • 68% of reported crabs were caught by visitors
    • The peak period for Mud Crab catches in 2017 was during February


    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:

    Whitsunday Queensland Fisheries Boat Ramp Surveys
    Whitsunday Queensland Fisheries Commercial Data

  • Fishing Area

    Area Assessed

    Mud Crabs are caught throughout the Gladstone region. Commercially they are targetted in Grids S30,S31 (Gladstone) as well as T30,T31 (Rodds Bay) which are not included as that also covers Agnes Waters/1770.