Mornington Peninsula Shire is calling for a ban on taking giant spider crabs during their annual moult between May and June in southern Port Phillip.
“In the past couple of years we’ve witnessed hundreds of people congregating on Rye pier to lower their crab nets and catch countless numbers of crabs,” Mayor Despi O’Connor said yesterday. “The chicken carcasses and other food sources used to attract the crabs has resulted in significant pollution in the water and on the foreshore, which is unacceptable. With the annual aggregation event about to happen, we are urgently calling on the Victorian Fisheries Authority and (relevant ministers) to implement an exclusion zone to protect the crabs and this unique occurrence. As a major stakeholder in the management of the Rye foreshore, we echo the community’s concerns about the crabs and urge the government to protect them.”
The Shire has previously written to the State Government and the VFA to share community concerns regarding the increased level of human interference in the annual moult around Rye and Blairgowrie. The VFA subsequently temporarily reduced the catch limit from 30 to 15, but the Shire wants a seasonal no-take zone imposed exclusively for the crabs similar to one imposed to protect rays in Port Phillip. It is also working with the Peninsula’s Spider Crab Alliance, which highlights concerns surrounding the crabbing and netting of crabs during their moult. The SCA has scheduled a community information session at 2pm next Sunday, June 6, at the Rye Scout Hall subject to COVID-19 restrictions.
Deputy Mayor Sarah Race said naturalist Sir David Attenborough recognised the importance of the event when he documented the annual moult as part of his Blue Planet series. “In this spirit, we want to protect the crabs so people can witness the wonders of nature, not harm the crab population and risk the future of this species and the local ecosystem,” Cr Race said. “Let’s celebrate the crabs, not decimate them.”