Cutting concerns for crayfish

Charlotte Varcoe

THERE have been calls from a South East recreational fishing association to reduce the amount percentage of clipping crayfish tails.

The Kingston South East Recreational Fishers Association will make fresh calls for the current legislated 50 per cent clipping of crayfish tails to be reduced to 20 per cent.

The current requirement to clip half the middle tail fan of recreationally caught crayfish had been in place for a number of years.

It prevents crayfish from being illegally sold by being easily differentiated from commercially caught crayfish.

Association president Lyndon McInness said the reason behind the request was to prevent pain and bleeding from the crayfish.

“It is painful for the crayfish to cut their tails at 50 per cent,” Mr McInness said.

“They really react to that cut but they do not really react to it being cut at 20 per cent.”

He said the blood produced from the crayfish tails being cut would turn the water they were transported into white.

Mr McInness said the association tried to have the required amount of tail cut changed in 2006 and decided to try again now the association was back together after disbanding in 2020.

He said there was an almost instant decrease in quality of crayfish meat following the clipping if it bled.

“We notice a decrease in quality within the hour,” Mr McInness said.

Port MacDonnell recreational crayfisherman Graham Lucas said he did not believe clipping the tails at 50 per cent was an issue.

“I am a professional and recreational crayfisherman and I have been doing it for more than 30 years,” Mr Lucas said.

“I do not think the clipping of the tails matter, you just go and do it.”

He said he did not often see the crayfish bleeding after its tail was cut and said the reduction in percentage was a “non-issue”.

“It is a non-issue and cutting 20 per cent off a tail would be difficult to judge because they are all different sizes and flipping around all the time,” Mr Lucas said.

Minister for Primary Industries Clare Scriven said previous studies indicated cutting the middle tail fan would not cause pain or physical distress to the lobster due to there being no major nervous tissue in the first half of the middle tail fan.

“The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) indicated there was no data on the blood loss due to a 50 per cent tail fan cut compared to a 20% cut, however, suggesting the difference would be negligible,” Ms Scriven said.

“This requirement generally only becomes an enforcement issue when fishers have not clipped the tail fan or recreationally caught rock lobster in a way that it is discernible, rather than a strict 50 per cent measurement.”

According to Ms Scriven, the Department of Primary Industries and Regions has responded to the association.

She said it was not raised directly with her nor had it been raised by RecFish South Australia.