The State government has now removed commercial crabbers from the metropolitan public eye. They are prohibited in school holidays, and off the city beaches where it may affect marginal electorates.
Further up the gulf in the crab nursery of St Vincent they fail to attack the problem (Taylor – safe labour by 27.4% and Goyder – safe liberal by 9.1%) where something is badly wrong with the crabs.
2013 (PIRSA) Report: Gulf St Vincent Crabs are in their weakest position since the introduction of quota (1996), legal size and junior sizes have declined, and for the fourth year in a row commercials have not been able to catch their quota. Blue crabs are “classified as transitional depleting stock” They report that when commercial pots were introduced to the West Coast in 1986 that crab fishery collapsed and the licences were surrendered.
The States report shows $6.4 million gross income to the blue crab industry in 2012 giving the State an economic rent of $1,550,000.00, up from $121,000.00 in 1997/98 after commercial pots came in.
The reports state that commercial fishers have been expanding their target areas in the Gulf St Vincent to include just off “Port Gawler” and when they “lift the pots” the second lift of the day does not catch as much as their first lift.
The State’s response has been to reduce the bag limit of recreational fishers by half. In other words, low tide amateur crab rakers and drop netters who fish a couple of hours per day occasionally are stopped but commercial fishers – except school and public holidays) with catch all pots in the water 15 to 20 hours per day, are not!
The reduction of quota last year was not a reduction in commercial catch. It merely matched the allowable catch to what commercials were actually able to catch in the last four or five years in the depleted fishery and which was not up to the quota anyway.
The metro ban has nothing to do with conserving crabs and everything to do with catching marginal city votes.
See my earlier blog with photos and my facebook site with a video clip from the news today.