Lowering Kona Crab Catch Limits Considered

June 24, 2017, 8:03 AM HST · Updated June 26, 6:10 AM
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The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council recommended lowering the 2017 annual catch limit for main Hawaiian Islands Kona crab to 3,500 pounds.  The previously recommended ACL for this fishery was 27,600 pounds.

The closed season in Hawaii for Kona crab is May through August. Crab image courtesy Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources. Maui Now graphic.

The council says the new ACL would most likely prevent overfishing.

The Council further recommended that the National Marine Fisheries Service update the Kona Crab catch per unit effort data to the most recent year and explore other standardization methods in the next stock assessment.

The Council further requested that the State of Hawai’i review its current management regulations for Kona crab and improve the non-commercial catch, effort and size data of Kona crab to better evaluate the fishery.

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Bruce Anderson, administrator for the Hawai’i Division of Aquatic Resources said that the State is looking to extend the closed season and additional gear restrictions and possibly adjust the minimum size limits, regardless of the ACL decision. Anderson sits on the Council as the designee for Suzanne Case, chair of the Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Other Council actions

  • The Council will explore options and initiate action to use the disaster relief provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to support the economically challenged American Samoa longline fishery. The fishery has declined from 20 vessels in 2015 to 11 in 2017.
  • The Council will request a meeting between the governor and the Council’s chair and executive director on the status of the MHI bottomfish stock, monitoring and management regime and history of the State’s Bottomfish Restricted Fishing Areas (BRFAs). The briefing should provide an option for managing the BRFAs and collect information that will establish a new baseline from which future management changes to be evaluated.
  • The Council will request that DAR revisit the proposed minimum size changes for yellowfin tuna and provide the Council with a determination of whether the changes are warranted and to review the design of the State’s fish aggregation devices and provide a report to the Council with the rationale for not including structure under the existing design.
  • The Council will request that the State of Hawaii Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation provide adequate electrical power and lighting to the fishing vessels at Honokohau Harbor to ensure the safety of the fishermen.
The Council has authority over fisheries seaward of the jurisdictions of Hawai’i, American Samoa, Guam, CNMI and all US waters around the US Pacific Remote Islands Areas.

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