A DISEASED crab pulled up by a local fisherman has prompted fears that a health recovery in local crab stocks could be a false dawn.
But a veteran crab fisherman believes crab health has cleaned up since the harbour fish disease scare.
Gladstone man Clayton Reid, 39, pulled the crab out of a crab pot from the creek running under Port Curtis Way, known as Gasworks Creek, on Monday morning.
The crab was stricken with rust spots and lesions, ruining his hopes of a good meal.
"I was rather disappointed because I wanted a feed, but there's no way I'm touching that," he said.
He said it was one of the worst crabs he had pulled out of his pot in a long recreational fishing career.
"I've been crabbing in the area since I was knee-high to a grasshopper; I've had a few with damage in the past few years, but nothing like this," Reid said.
He said he had caught two-dozen crabs over the past couple of months of varying sizes and age, but this was the first time he had pulled one up in such bad condition, saying it was possible this was merely an isolated incident.
A much-debated Queensland Department of Fisheries report released in August said the condition of marine life was improving, and that a combination of an influx of barramundi into the Gladstone Harbour and dredging was to blame for the recent fish health problems.
The report admitted dredging could have contributed to the health issues.
"This study cannot rule out the possibility that the activity of dredging and associated turbidity provided additional stress to the ecosystem, but it was not the primary stressor," the report read.
As part of sampling for that report, the department said analysis conducted on mud crabs last April indicated a "significant association" between aluminium and selenium concentrations.
Local veteran crab fisherman Bob Appo said that he was having a bumper year, and local crabs appear to be in rude health.
"The crabs have cleaned up heaps since last year," he said.