Spanner Crabs are
available wild-caught, these marine dwellers are found from
close inshore to at least 100m, usually buried in sand from
where they attack small bottom-dwelling fish. Their long, almost
goblet-shaped, bright orange shells (even when uncooked) and
spanner-shaped front claws are quite distinctive. Found around
most of the Australian coast from NSW north to southern WA, they
are caught commercially, mainly using dillies, but also as a bycatch of Prawn trawling, off southern Queensland and northern
NSW. The fishery has increased greatly since the early 1980s.
Also known as Frog Crab and Red Frog Crab
and Curacha Crab, Kona Crab (USA)
CAAB (Codes for Australian Aquatic Biota) Code for Spanner
Crab: 28 865001
Spanner Crabs are
caught commercially, mainly using dillies, but also as a bycatch of Prawn
trawling, off southern Queensland and northern NSW. The fishery has increased
greatly since the early 1980s
Commercial spanner crab fishers are required by law to use
dillies - frames with netting stretched across them - no more than 1 metre
square in size.
A bait bag containing three or four bait fish is attached to each dilly. Ten or
15 dillies are clipped to a trotline by a short rope at about 50-metre
intervals. Each trotline is marked by a flagged buoy.
The gear is left in the water for 30-60 minutes and then winched up. As the nets
come aboard they are cleared of crabs. The undersized crabs are immediately
returned to the water, and the legal-sized crabs are kept alive.
Commercial spanner-crabbers are required to use dillies.
Spanner crabs are harvested all year round, except during a one-month spawning
season from 20 November to 20 December. Most of the Queensland catch is taken in
deep oceanic waters south of Yeppoon.
The fishery is managed through a total allowable catch control (TACC), currently
set at 1923 tonnes, with individual transferable quotas (ITQs) also issued to
fishers. The spanner crab harvest has averaged approximately 1300 tonnes
annually over the past 5 years.
The bulk of the catch is exported as live product to East Asia, mainly Taiwan.
The crabs are cooled to about 15°C and packed in polystyrene boxes for
transportation by air. A small amount of spanner crab is also sold as chilled
cooked product on local and interstate markets.
Available from January to October, peaking from July to October with the fishery
closed for most of December.
East & West Coasts of Australia
All year round
To 150mm carapace length & 900 grams
Australian Species Code
Video from Queensland Seafood about Spanner