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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Effects of marine reserve protection on the mud crab Scylla serrata in a sex-biased fishery in subtropical Australia

Published source details

Pillans S., Pillans R., Johnstone R., Kraft P., Haywood M. & Possingham H. (2005) Effects of marine reserve protection on the mud crab Scylla serrata in a sex-biased fishery in subtropical Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 295, 201-213


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Designate a Marine Protected Area and prohibit all types of fishing Subtidal Benthic Invertebrate Conservation

A replicated, paired, site comparison study in 2002–2003 of six areas of muddy seabed and seagrass in Moreton Bay, Coral Sea, Australia (Pillans et al. 2005) found that marine protected areas prohibiting all fishing (no-take reserves) had typically more and bigger mud crabs Scylla serrata, compared to nearby and distant fished areas, five years after designation. Abundance of mud crabs was approximately 2.5 times higher in the reserves (1.5 crabs/pot) compared to three of four fished areas (0.3–0.5 crabs/pot), but not significantly different from one nearby fished area (1.1 crabs/pot). Mud crabs were on average bigger in the reserves (15.7–16.1 cm), compared to the fished areas (14.7–15.8 cm). Two no-take marine reserves (closed to all fishing) were established in 1997. Mud crabs were surveyed in the reserves and in four fished (recreationally and/or commercially, see paper for details) non-reserves (two paired with each reserve; one nearby ≤7 km away, one distant (distance unspecified)) in summer and winter 2002–2003. During each survey, 11 baited crab pots/area were deployed at 1–4 m depth (≥50 m apart), for 24 h and recovered (repeated two consecutive days). Upon recovery, all crabs captured were identified, measured (carapace width), and released. The relative abundance of crabs was expressed as catch/unit effort (meaning the number of crabs caught/pot).

(Summarised by Anaëlle Lemasson)