Crabs and lobsters

Line drawing of crabbing gear including dillies and crab pots

Crabbing gear

Crabbing and fishing gear

Crab pots and dillies

In tidal waters, when fishing for blue swimmer crabs, mud crabs and spanner crabs, no more than four crab pots or dillies (or a combination of pots and dillies) may be used per person. Also a person must not possess more than four crab apparatus per person, on a boat on the water.

Crab pots and dillies must be marked by an identifying tag bearing the surname and address of the owner.

When not attached to a fixed object (for example tied to a tree above the high water mark), all crab apparatus must have a light coloured surface float attached. The float must not be less than 15 cm in any dimension and must be marked clearly with the owner's name.

When tied to a fixed object, a tag must also be attached to part of the rope that is above the high water mark. The tag must be marked clearly with the owner's name.

The use of inverted dilly apparatus (witches hats) was phased out from 2 April 2010.

When fishing for spanner crabs, the frame of a dilly must be made of solid steel of a thickness of at least 6 mm and no more than 1 m in each of its dimensions. If a collapsible trap is used it must be made of rigid material and have one or more collapsible sides.

Ensure you sort your crabs on a pot-by-pot basis to remove any illegal crabs before moving on, or they are deemed in your possession.

Female or undersized crabs must be removed from the trap and returned to the water immediately.

Note: The age limit for the recreational use of crab apparatus has been removed.

Crab collapsible trap

In tidal waters, a collapsible trap must be made of rigid material with one or more collapsible sides.

Tropical rock lobster fishing apparatus

In tidal waters, when fishing for tropical rock lobster, recreational fishers are permitted to free-dive using a mask and snorkel, and a rubber-powered hand spear or spear gun.

The use of underwater breathing apparatus other than a snorkel is not permitted, whether by spear, spear gun, hand or any other means.

ID and measurement

Crab gender identification and crustacean measurement

Determine crab gender from the underside of the crab.

  • Crab gender identification (top) and measurement of male blue swimmer and male mud crabs
    Crab gender identification (top) and measurement of male blue swimmer and male mud crabs

Possessing crustaceans and crabmeat

A person must not possess:

  • mud or blue swimmer crabs with the carapace (shell) missing (this includes possessing claws without the rest of the crab)
  • live tropical rock lobsters - fishers who catch tropical rock lobster are required to remove the central flap of the tail or puncture the flap with a hole at least 10mm in diameter
  • crabmeat - unless the crab with a missing shell or the crabmeat is for immediate consumption.

Line drawings of spanner crab and painted crayfish

Tropical rocklobster and spanner crab.

Closed seasons

Spanner crabs

Throughout Queensland a closed season (regulated period) applies to spanner crabs from midnight 20 November to midnight 20 December inclusive.

Tropical rock lobster (tropical spiny rock lobster)

A closed season applies to all species of tropical rocklobster (family Panuliridae) from midnight 1 October to midnight 31 January in Queensland tidal waters:

  1. north of latitude 14º S, south of Cape York and east of longitude 142º31'49" E
  2. in the Gulf of Carpentaria, shoreward of the 25 n mile line and south of latitude 10°48' S.

Note: A size limit (11.5 cm tail minimum, 9 cm carapace minimum) applies to painted crayfish (Panulirus ornatus).

Protected species

The following species are protected throughout Queensland and are therefore prohibited from being in anyone's possession without a permit:

  • female mud and blue swimmer crabs
  • egg-bearing spanner crabs, slipper lobsters, and tropical rocklobsters (tropical spiny rock lobsters)
  • tar-spot tropical rocklobsters (tar-spot tropical spiny rock lobsters).

Further information

Last updated 01 March 2013