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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 19 January 2021

A haul of illegal fish traps removed from Port Hedland's creek systems

​The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) reminds fishers to use the correct gear when fishing for mud crabs in Western Australia’s north.

Fisheries compliance officers from DPIRD raised their concerns, following the discovery of illegal fish traps seized in Port Hedland this month. 

On 10 January, the officers came across 17 illegal fish traps in Port Hedland’s creek systems, which had been set in ways to avoid detection.

One man, who was attending a trap he had set and questioned by the officers on the same day, now faces a potential fine of up to $5,000, when the matter goes before a court.
Use and possession of fish traps is illegal in WA waters.

It is against the State’s fishing laws to use traps to take fish from Indian Ocean waters, as well as any estuary, inlet, river, brook or stream. It is also an offence for a person to be in possession of illegal fishing gear on land adjacent to those waters.

The illegal fishing traps seized from Port Hedland’s creek systems

Fish traps have an ongoing detrimental effect on their environment through a continual cycle of catching, killing and subsequently self-baiting.
Acting Supervising Fisheries and Marine Officer for the Northern Region, Joanne Johnson, said it was disappointing to find such high numbers of illegal traps in a local creek system.

“These 17 traps were seized, but there may be more, so we urge people to report them if they come across them,” Ms Johnson said. “Apart from being illegal, fish traps are a threat to a range of wildlife, so if you come across a fish trap report it to FishWatch on 1800 815 507.

“Also, if someone is seen attending a trap, we urge others not to get directly involved and, instead, report the activity to the Fishwatch line, which is open 24/7.”
FishWatch operators treat all reports with strict confidence and, by reporting what you witness you will be assisting us to protecting the State’s fish resources for future generations.

You can catch mud crabs by hand or a blunt hand held hook, which must not be able to pierce the crab. Drop nets no wider than 1.5 metres in diameter are legal to use, with a maximum limit of 10 per person or 10 per boat, regardless of how many people are aboard. The other legal option is a scoop net. Hand-held wire or plastic scoop nets must be bowl-shaped and made of a rigid mesh that is not capable of entangling a crab, with an internal diameter no bigger than 375 millimetres and a depth of no more than 210 millimetres.

Have a look at our online rules for mud crabs at or the in the Recreational fishing guide. The obligation for all fishers is to know the rules.

Last modified: 19/01/2021 4:47 PM

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