The Mega Fortris “Mud Crab Project”.
Mega Fortris Australia, has a long history in providing seals / (tags) to numerous Government Departments for the management and sustainability of our unique wildlife. These management programs are often initiated by Government to sustainably manage the population of certain wildlife such as Kangaroos, Crocodiles, Lobsters and Abalone to name but a few.
In 2017, Mega Fortris Australia was approached by the NSW Department of Primary Industries to undertake yet another problem project; to sustainably manage the fishing and sale of the NSW Mud Crab. The seals or tags as we refer to them are required to ensure that only licenced fisherman could catch and sell the NSW Mud Crab within NSW. Our numbered tags are registered within the NSW DPI’s database and this ensures the minimisation of black market, unauthorised sales.
Not only does this management process ensure the sale of licenced product, but it also prevents overfishing of the NSW Mud Crab, which ensures the longevity and sustainability of the Mud Crabs caught throughout NSW waters. It also enables the Department to know, exactly how many Mud Crabs have been caught in any given year, their weights, locations, sex, who caught them, but it also allows them to regulate the sale price at market, due to not being over or under, fished.
Additional catch data, also allows the Government to review the suitability of catch “Hot Spots”, the revision of licence fees and at the end of the year and make responsible decisions about future years total allowable catch or TAC.
After trialling, many of our own seals we came the realisation that we would need to work with the design team within Mega Fortris Malaysia (HO) and develop our own unique product, that was fit for purpose in security, functionality and marketability. We did this in conjunction with the NSW DPI and in 2019 we entered into a financial arrangement with the Department to ensure they have ongoing security over the tooling, sale and manufacture of the product.
The Mud Crab Seal was made in 2 different versions; the V1 and V2.
The V1 product, has a standard style horizontal security chamber to pass the seals tail through, in the same way you would with any of our other pull-tight style products. This seal/tag was designed to go around the claw of the Queensland Mud Crab as part of a long-term view to clean up, black market activity across the entire Mud Crab catch zone, along the entire Australian Eastern coastline. The Qld Mud Carb is much larger – see image below and as such, the tag is only required to go around the claw for ease of use.
The V2 product, is a little bit different as it requires a specially designed hand tool to “crush” the chamber of the seal, so that the seal cannot ever been used again. The reason for this is simple, if you placed a seal around a large Mud Crab and sold it, for example to a restaurant. What could happen is, the restaurant could cut the tail and remove the tag at the point of serving the Mud Crab to the guest, and then potentially keep that tag, buy a smaller Mud Crab on the black market and then reapply the seal to this smaller crab. If instead, we “crush” the chamber, you cannot remove or re-insert the tail into the chamber, rendering it truly one time use.
Outside of the security and functionality of the seals/tags, the other key ingredient in the design process, was how the NSW DPI could be seen to market and promote their fishery at the point of sale. We designed a thin and flexible marking flap to straddle across the shell of the Mud Crab, front and centre. This flap is laser engraved with numbers, text and then beautifully screen printed with the NSW DPI Logo, which is our state flower the “Waratah”.
The NSW DPI and Qld DPI are currently trialling both the V1 and V2 seals with select fisherman within their networks and are set for final purchasing in the coming 2020/2021 fishing season. Both the V1 and V2 seals have had their designs registered as part of an ongoing patent process in Europe, USA, Asia and Australia.