Crystal Crab (2023)

Chaceon albus

  • Simon de Lestang (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia )

Date Published: June 2023

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Crystal Crab is a deep water (> 400 m) crab species which is commercially caught off the west (West Coast Deep Sea Crab Managed Fishery: WCDSC) and south (South Coast Crustacean Managed Fishery: SCC) coasts of WA. The west coast component of the stock is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and has been assessed as sustainable. 

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Western Australia West Coast Sustainable

Catch, catch rate, spatial extent

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Stock Structure

There is currently no information on the stock structure of crystal crab. A larval duration of 39 days reported for a congeneric Atlantic Ocean species [Perkins 1973] and preliminary movement information [Melville-Smith et al. 2007] suggest little potential mixing. However, as the majority of the catch (> 95%) comes from a small geographic area, it is considered a single stock for the purpose of this assessment. A research project has commenced to examine the genetic stock structure of crystal crabs from the west and south coasts of Western Australia. Here the assessment is presented at the biological stock level—West Coast (Western Australia).

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Stock Status

West Coast

The stock status for Crystal Crab (Chaceon albus) is based on a weight of evidence approach using a range of empirical and modelled estimates of catch, catch rate and biomass in both the West Coast Deep Sea Crab Managed Fishery (WCDSC) and South Coast Crustacean Managed Fishery (SCC). Annual assessments for the WCDSC are have been reviewed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since 2015.

Catches of Crystal Crab in both of fisheries are limited by individual transferrable quotas.  For the WCDSC, an integrated population model has been developed that estimates percentage depletion from virgin levels for the Crystal Crab across the 10 latitudinal bands that span the active fishery. The combination of latitudinal assessments indicate that the mature biomass is above the provisional target, 60% of virgin biomass (B60) level with a high degree of certainty.  The west coast component of the stock is certified to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and has been assessed as sustainable.  In the SCC Crystal Crab is assessed on a zonal basis, with most of the catch being taken from Zone 2.  This component of the stock is assessed using a biomass dynamics model which indicates that it is likely that the level of stock depletion is adequate, noting that the stock has improved due to sustained low catches of < 5 t over the last four seasons. Projected catches of crystal crab in Zone 2 at current TACs are considered sustainable in the long-term based on current model predictions.

The above evidence also indicates that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired. 

On the basis of the evidence provided above, the West Coast Crystal Crab is classified as a sustainable stock.

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[Smith et al. 2004; Melville-Smith et al. 2007] 

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Crystal Crab

25–30 years

90.5 mm carapace length (females)

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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Crystal Crab

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Fishing methods
Western Australia
Octopus Traps And Pots
Traps and Pots
Management methods
Method Western Australia
Area closures
Egg bearing females protected
Gear restrictions
Limited entry
Size limit
Total allowable catch
Western Australia
Commercial 129.56t


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Catch Chart

Commercial catch of Crystal Crab

Downloadable reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.