Marine pest unearthed in west

Western Australia’s Department of Fisheries is undertaking a special survey of the Peel Harvey estuary in Mandurah to check on whether an invasive marine pest – the Asian paddle crab – is present in the popular waterway.

Biosecurity concerns were raised recently, when a single specimen of the non-endemic pest species Charybdis japonica was positively identified.

South West Bioregions Manager Kevin Donohue said, because of the risk to the aquatic environment the species represents, he was calling on Peel Region fishers to notify the Department of Fisheries should they catch a crab that fits the Asian paddle crab’s description.

“Anyone who suspects they have found this species is asked to call our FISHWATCH reporting line on 1800 815 507,” Donohue said.

“The Asian paddle crab was first reported in New Zealand 10 years ago and, since then, it has become widespread in parts of the North Island, so we know they can be highly invasive and we don’t want this species to establish itself here in WA.

“In Japan, this species is known to carry White Spot Syndrome Virus, which can negatively impact on prawn, crab and lobster stocks. It also has potential to compete with blue swimmer crabs for space and prey and also to impact on aquaculture operations.”

The Asian paddle crab is smaller than the blue swimmer crab; adults have a shell width of 12cms, it has six distinct sharp spines each side of its eyes, with pointed teeth between the eyes. Its colour can vary. The colour of the discovered specimen is pale green.

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