Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

I was going to share a paper with you about snow crabs, but when I looked at my calendar I saw that today is Australia Day (like Columbus Day for the States, so a bit controversial if I understand it correctly). So I’ve decided to celebrate an awesome Australian crab: the GIANT CRAB Pseudocarcinus gigas!

Bo Jones with a P. gigas off of Tasmania
(I got to meet him at the Lowell Wakefield conference in '09!)

The giant crab (aka Australian giant crab, giant Tasmanian crab, king crab OR queen crab) is a deepwater species that can grow up to 14 kg! Despite that, most are harvested around 4 kg, with male and female size limits = minimum carapace length of 150 mm and maximum carapace length of 215 mm. The nice thing is that, given females can be harvested too, berried females are illegal and have to be thrown back.

giant crab enjoying the seafloor

The fishery started in Tasmanian waters in 1990 and then in South Australian waters in 1992, so it’s a relatively young fishery. The giant crabs are sold either live, fresh green (ie dead), cooked, or pickled, and mostly exported.

historical catch of giant crabs for the South Australian fishery

Unfortunately, at least in 2006, an assessment of the fishery declared it “growth overfished” (other fishery info here and here). In the meantime, they are managed for their fishery and as by-catch in the rock lobster fishery.

Have a great day and good luck to the giant crab!

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