Every year thousands of Australian Giant Spider Crabs, in the largest-known crab migration on the planet, march into the shallows of Port Phillip Bay to moult and seek safety in numbers.

But in recent years this spectacular congregation of crabs has started to be intensively targeted by crab harvesting. 

Between these months of April-July, thousands of admirers also come from far and wide to the Mornington Peninsula to witness this critical and fascinating stage in the spider crabs’ growth right on Victoria’s salty doorstep – with significant potential benefit for the winter tourism economy.

Alarmingly the 2019/2020 seasons have seen an unprecedented explosion crab harvesting, resulting in marine environment destruction, pollution and littering of the seafloor, and increased safety risks to the general public.

Spider crabs need a seasonal no-take period during their vulnerable moulting season from April to July. Join divers, fishers, water users, scientists, local businesses, educators, local and state-wide groups to SOS #saveourspidercrabs.

Rather than safeguarding this unique tourism drawcard, the Victorian Fisheries Authority is not adequately  addressing the issue. Their proposed bag limit reduction from 30 to 15 crabs per day does not address or mitigate the concerns, and risks only further promoting the moulting season as a fishery, given the only recent emergence of intense harvesting. This could make the situation worse in future years.

Ask the Victorian Fisheries Authority and Ministers with the power to intervene to protect the spider crabs and prevent future marine damage by creating a no-take period.

Take Action

Send in your own letter – this has maximum impact (see guide below) OR Sign the pre-written letter delivered directly to the Victorian Fisheries Authority and the Ministers responsible.


 Send in your own letter

The best way for you to help is to send in your own personalised letter. This has more impact. To do this you can follow these easy steps:

1.Address your letter to the Victorian Fisheries Authority in response to their public consultation on reducing spider crab bag limits and to these three Ministers:

Victorian Fisheries Authority
The Hon. Melissa Horne – Minister for Fishing & Boating
Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio – Minister for Environment
The Hon. Martin Pakula – Minister for Tourism

NB: Please BCC: [email protected] (so we can capture how many people are taking the action)

2. Use these guiding points and re-word in your own words:

  • I’m concerned about the intensive harvesting of iconic Australian Giant Spider Crabs from popular piers in Port Phillip Bay, the heart of the world renowned and loved annual spider crab migration.
  • Intense targeting of the spider crabs commenced on the Mornington Peninsula in 2019 and escalated in 2020, resulting in the harvesting of large numbers of crabs during their important moulting aggregations, broad community outrage, marine environmental destruction, pollution and increased safety risks to the general public.
  • I oppose the proposed bag limit reduction which will in no way address the concerns of 34,000+ petition signatories and members of the local and global community. A no-take period is the solution to safeguard this incredible marine and tourism tourism.
  • To date there has been no recent, reliable, comprehensive scientific research conducted to determine the number of spider crabs in Port Phillip Bay. Without the science to indicate the sustainability of removing potentially large numbers of spider crabs during their moulting and potential breeding times, harvesting during this critical time of their life stage should not be permitted.
  • The natural phenomenon of the spider crab moulting aggregations have much greater potential economic benefit and winter tourism value to the region than being harvested en masse.
  • I urgently seek your support for a seasonal no-take period to safeguard the annual spider crab moulting aggregations, from April-July inclusive each year.

3. Insert your own thoughts/opinions/experiences in addition.

4. Sign the letter with your name, postal address, email and phone number

5. Email or post the letter to the Victorian Fisheries Authority and the three Ministers:


Sign the pre-written letter to ministers responsible.

A copy of the letter you’re sending is below.

Dear

  • Victorian Fisheries Authority
  • The Hon. Melissa Horne – Minister for Fishing & Boating 
  • Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio – Minister for Environment 
  • The Hon. Martin Pakula – Minister for Tourism 

In response to the VFA’s public consultation on the reduction of the Australian Giant Spider Crab bag limit, I write to you with significant concern over the continued harvesting of this species from Port Phillip Bay piers, when these iconic marine animals are arguably at the most vulnerable stage in their life and breeding cycles.

I strongly urge for the introduction of a no-take season to safeguard the world-renowned annual moulting aggregations of the spider crabs most accessible to the general public from April-July each year.

I support the introduction of a no-take season as the only solution to the unprecedented and escalating spider crab harvesting and associated environmental damage, including marine pollution and public safety hazards. I oppose the proposed bag limit reduction because it fails to address the many associated problems. My reasons include:

  • To date there has been no recent, reliable, comprehensive scientific research conducted to determine the number of spider crabs in Port Phillip Bay. Without the science to indicate the sustainability of removing potentially large numbers of spider crabs during their moulting and potential breeding times, harvesting during this critical time of their life stage should not be permitted.
  • While these moulting aggregations have only attracted recreational crabbing harvesting since 2019, this natural spectacle has extremely high and long-standing social, cultural and traditional value amongst locals, interstate and international tourists, children, families, businesses, fishers, scuba divers and film crews who bring this famous event to the world stage.
  • The intensive harvesting of crabs during the aggregations in 2019 and 2020 has been observed and documented to be intensive, leaving very few of the crabs aggregating at the piers to moult. This could have ecosystem impacts.
  • Not protecting species during critical times of their life cycle goes against indigenous lore and the Marine and Coastal Policy 2020. Allowing them to be targeted during these times without adequate science does not support ecosystem-based management, and evidence-based decision-making, as requirements under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018, and The Fisheries Act 1995. Without adequate science and knowledge of the life cycle of the crabs and the importance they provide to Port Phillip Bay’s ecosystem, a fishery should not be permitted during such a critical time of their life cycle.
  • Damage to marine life, marine litter and marine pollution has been highly visible to the public eye, including the mass dumping of chicken carcasses, plastics and damage to marine life on pier pylons, associated with the specific methods and sheer volume of crab harvesting that has taken place.
  • The potential economic benefit of celebrating and safeguarding this unique marine spectacle on the Mornington Peninsula during winter when the tourism value is critically important to local businesses, especially as they seek to recover from the crippling impacts of Covid-19.
  • The VFA’s measures of satellite tagging of 15 crabs and the proposed bag limit reduction does not address any of the concerns expressed above, and offers no insight into the sustainability of harvesting spider crabs. Introducing a no-take season effective immediately as of the 2021 moulting aggregation – or as an interim measure until such scientifically reliable data can be collected – is the only solution.
  • Halving the bag limit from 30 to 15 does not address or mitigate the documented concerns and only further promotes the moulting season as a fishery given the only recent emergence of harvesting. This could make the situation worse.
  • A recent survey undertaken by the VFA shows that of the approximately 300 people surveyed that target spider crabs, 77% of them had only fished for the first time in 2020; only 7.5% considered targeting the crabs as culturally important; only 4.5% of people said they went spider crab fishing to eat; and 83% indicated they would not target Australian Giant Spider Crabs for the purpose of eating them again These results defeat claims by the VFA that the crabs are ‘a really important cultural food source’.

A seasonal no-take period during the annual spider crab moulting season is supported by local and state-wide groups, including The Spider Crab Alliance, Spider Crabs Melbourne, The Victorian National Parks Association, more than 34,000 petition signatories, statements of position from 40+ local businesses, industry representatives and educators, and 1000+ statements of support from individuals including marine biologists, scientists and educators.

Please save our spider crabs and protect this valuable tourism asset by introducing an important no-take season to safeguard the moulting aggregations most accessible to the general public from April to July inclusive.

Latest Activity

  • Photo of animal
    ruth less than 1 second ago
  • Photo of animal
    Erin less than 1 second ago
  • Photo of animal
    Jennifer less than 1 second ago