Murray Spiny Freshwater Crayfish

Scientific Name
Euastacus armatus
Average 20-30cm

General Description

Murray spiny freshwater crayfish are the world’s second largest freshwater crayfish. They are a favourite amongst fishers as they are considered to be a delicacy.

Crayfish are a slow growing species, taking 6-7 years to reach maturity. Adults average 20 to 30 centimetres in total length and can be identified by their white claws and spined abdomen. The carapace colour can vary from a dark to medium green or brown and sometimes there will be a slight blue tinge to the carapace.

Where to Find

Murray crayfish are mainly found in the Murray and Murrumbidgee River catchments and their tributaries. In Victoria, the Mitta Mitta, Kiewa, Ovens and Goulburn River catchments are the places to go.

Fishing Rules

To help ensure you are measuring your catch accurately, the VFA do offer free plastic gauges via their regional departments, the customer service centre (136 186) and some fishing tackle stores that sell recreational fishing licenses. These plastic measures are available for Murray spiny freshwater crayfish, as well as abalone and rock lobster.

  • Closed season: 1 September to 31 May for waters north of the Great Dividing Range.
  • A slot limit – a minimum legal size of 10cm carapace length and maximum of 12cm carapace length. This is measured from the back of the eye socket to the rear of the carapace.
  • A bag limit of 2
  • An absolute state-wide possession limit of 4.
  • Crayfish must be retained whole or in carcass form
  • Female crayfish that are carrying eggs or young under their tails must be returned to the water immediately and unharmed. Eggs must not be removed.
  • By hand
  • Up to 10 baited lines – with no hooks attached
  • Up to 5 hoop nets which must be labelled – and no open top lift nets in specified waters
  • A combined total of 10 nets which must be labelled – that are hoop nets or open top lift nets.
  • The nets float must be attached to a tag stating the fishers full name and residential address.

If you got any questions about the rules get in contact with the Victorian Fisheries Authority and if you see any illegal activities make a report to 13 FISH (13 3474).

If you are heading up to the Murray River, remember you will need a NSW Fishing Licence and only the section between Hume Weir and the Tocumwal road bridge is open during the season. Further information about NSW rules go to the NSW Primary Industries freshwater recreational fishing rules page.

Map of New South Wales from NSW Department of Primary Industries ‘Fishing for Murray Crayfish’ brochure.

Threats and Management Issues

Over time, there has been a decline in our Murray crayfish populations. There are a number of fishing rules in place to assist in the recovery of this excellent native species. In Victoria, Murray crayfish are subject to a very limited open season during the three months of winter, from 1 June to 31 August.

Before heading out to catch some crays, check out the Victorian rules on the Victorian Fisheries Authority’s Murray Spiny Freshwater Crayfish page. In particular, fishers should take care with the measurement of crays by making sure you have a gauge or callipers to measure them accurately.

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