Professional crabber Bob Appo testing the quality of his crabs. Photo Declan Cooley / The Observer
Professional crabber Bob Appo testing the quality of his crabs. Photo Declan Cooley / The Observer Declan Cooley

Crabbers get their claws out over thieves who raid pots

PROFESSIONAL crabbers Bob Appo and Gary Grant share a birthday and a hatred for crabbers who raid crab pots.

They've been in the crabbing business for the best part of both their lives; and while the two pros say crab thieving is as old as the hills it is as bad as it's been.

Mr Appo is self-professed as the longest serving crabber in the region and somewhat of a local legend.

"I've been around crabs since I was born and I can remember when I started professionally in 1976 hearing of pros giving up the game because of the stealing," he said.

"Crabbing is very territorial and it has to be otherwise you'll get done over.

"Everyone does it and I do feel for the amateur guys because we're all after the same thing but it's our livelihood," he said.

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Mr Grant - who now crabs further up the coast on the other side of Curtis Island - said he had to get out of Gladstone because he was losing too much to thieves.

Gary Grant.
Gary Grant.

"It's been going on since I was a kid and has always been out of control," he said.

"It's a touchy situation because if I catch someone I'll put them in jail.

"It's a dog-eat-dog world," he said.

Both men agree stopping crab thieves is almost impossible and think harsher penalties are needed.

Mr Appo didn't blame Fisheries Queensland for their inaction but thought a $5000 fine would stop the thieves dead in their tracks.

A spokesperson for Fisheries said there hadn't been any prosecutions for stealing crabs this year.

"Interfering with [a crab] apparatus is an offence which can carry on-the-spot fines of $1178 or maximum penalties up to $55,000," the spokesperson said

Mr Appo said at times he felt like giving it all away - and he knew plenty of people who wished he would - but felt the only solution was to get on with it and "live with the thieves".

"Everyone needs to leave each other alone," he said.