All fishers – commercial, recreation and charter – along with other boat and water users are being reminded to keep an eye out and report any suspicious aquatic pests including Asian Paddle Crab while fishing over the summer months.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said further sightings of the invasive Asian Paddle Crab have now been reported following an initial find of a male crab in late July 2019.
The latest confirmed detection involves a second male Asian Paddle Crab caught in the Port River along with two unconfirmed sightings off eastern Yorke Peninsula.
“The promotion of that initial find by a commercial fisher who reported it straight away to PIRSA has now prompted others to report suspected sightings,” said Minister Whetstone.
“It is great to see that awareness spread further amongst the community, with the recreational crabbing season now underway we all need to remain vigilant against these pests. However it is also important for PIRSA to see specimens to confirm such sightings, so we ask fishers to photograph any finds along with reporting immediately to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522.
“It’s important to keep the Asian Paddle Crab out of South Australia, not only due to their high potential of outcompeting native species such as Blue Swimmer Crab but also as they can be a pathway towards introducing exotic disease into our waters.
“To protect South Australia against the pest, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) is developing a surveillance program for the crab in the Port River and Gulf St Vincent, including along the Yorke Peninsula coast. This is being conducted in liaison with the commercial fishing industry, recreational fishers and dive groups.
“It is also important, should you come across a suspected Asian Paddle Crab not to return it to the water. Please retain them separately from any Blue Swimmer Crabs you may have caught and seek advice from PIRSA on correct disposal processes.”
A native species in central and eastern Asia (China, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand), Asian Paddle Crab has been introduced to New Zealand.
Asian Paddle Crabs are aggressive, non-native crabs that could out-compete native crabs like the Blue Swimmer Crab. Exotic crabs may be carrying diseases such as white spot that could spread to local prawns, crabs and lobsters.
South Australia has suitable habitat and environmental requirements for Asian Paddle Crab to establish.
The Asian Paddle Crab is not currently established anywhere in Australia, but has significant potential to do so.
Asian Paddle Crab – what to look out for:
- it can grow up to 120mm wide, which is smaller than the Blue Swimmer Crab
- found in a number of colours – pale, olive green, brown, purple
- sharp spines between its eyes
- six spines down each side of the shell.
Any sightings of suspect Asian Paddle Crab must be reported to Fishwatch on 1800 065 522 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: SA Government
Image: Pale Asian Paddle Crab. Source: Western Australian Museum