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Author: Brad Thompson
Date: 25th of July 2016

The west coast deep-sea crab fishery has clawed its way to the gold standard for sustainability after an 18-month assessment of the industry’s impact on stocks and the environment.

Southern Trading managing director Glen Bosman, whose company catches crabs off Denham and Carnarvon, said Marine Stewardship Council certification set up the niche fishery for a bright future.

The deep-sea crab catch is small in volume but attracts huge price premiums. A crystal crab weighing 1.5kg can sell for up to $300 from a live tank in a top-end Chinese restaurant in Sydney or Melbourne.

The west coast catch quota for crystal crabs was increased by 10 per cent to 154 tonnes this year. The quota for king crabs, which can weigh 8kg, and champagne crabs is 14 tonnes.

Southern Trading and another vertically integrated company, Chaceon, catch the crabs in water up to 800m deep using pots.

Mr Bosman said the fishery focused on crystal crabs and not the more vulnerable king and champagne crab species.

“We are the primary exporter to the Chinese market but the majority of the crabs remain in Australia,” he said.

Crabs landed in Denham or Carnarvon are kept chilled and trucked to holding tanks in Hamilton Hill before being supplied live to the domestic restaurant trade, where they were prized by Chinese customers.

“Chinese are prepared to pay more than $200 and up to $300 for a top-quality crab where a lot of Australians would baulk at that amount,” Mr Bosman said.

Fisheries Minister Joe Francis said MSC certification would boost the fishery’s reputation for supplying high-quality seafood without depleting stocks or damaging the environment.

“The MSC sustainable fisheries standard is internationally recognised as the most prestigious fisheries environmental accreditation,” he said.

Read article at The West Australian,