Giant crabs: One of Port Lincoln’s lesser known fishing industries

THE only boat in Port Lincoln licensed to catch Tasmanian giant crabs hauled in its first catch for the season on Monday after crabbing off the edge of the continental shelf.

In its fourth season of crabbing, the Arctic Gull is a crayfish boat but gears up to catch the giant crabs in November and December.

The boat operates on a crayfish licence with a giant crab endorsement and once the boat hits its quota of three tonnes it starts cray fishing for the season.

The crabs caught range in size from 3 kilograms to 6 or 7kg, however males can reach a maximum size of nearly 18 kilos. 

Skipper Matt Edmonds said the meat of the crab was “100 per cent” better than blue crab or sand crab meat and was sweeter than both.

He said the big claws were some of the best eating available and the flesh had a distinct “segmented, corned beef-like texture”.

“The bigger ones are generally for birthdays and Christmas as you don’t want to take your girlfriend out and split open a 6 or 7kg crab,” Mr Edmonds said.

Mr Edmonds hoped during this season the crabs would fetch about $90 to $100 per kilogram in the market.

He said the crabs were caught “30-hours steam” from Port Lincoln, with the larger than crayfish pots being dropped to depths of 200 to 250 metres. 

The crew works in all types of weather due to the distance from land. 

Mr Edmonds said it was “pretty nervy” being so isolated with no phone or radio service, as everything had to be in perfect working order before they left.

“We’ve got a good boat and it handles well in bad weather so I know what we can face,” Mr Edmonds said.

Most of the crabs are sold domestically, with the rest being sold into Asian markets.

Ferguson Australia distributes the crab Australia wide, and MORI seafood sells the giant crab in Port Lincoln.