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Report: Hawai?i Kona Crab Ample Enough For Increased Fishing

Allen Shimada
NOAA Fisheries

Hawai?i's Kona crab fishery is healthy enough to expand the catch brought to market, according to an assessment by a federal marine science agency.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the 2018 stock assessment of the main Hawaiian Islands Kona crab fishery, West Hawai?i Today reported Monday.

Hawaii waters remain well populated with Kona crab and the crustacean is not overfished, according to the assessment published by the agency's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu.

There is room to increase the catch without risk to the species, a related article by the agency said.

The crab fishery can sustain an annual take by harvesters of more than 73,000 pounds (33,112 kilograms), according to NOAA projections.

University researchers drew different conclusions in a 2015 assessment that said Kona crab was being overfished, the newspaper reported.

The crabs are rarely available in stores because they should be consumed within a day of capture, the assessment said.

Several state measures have been implemented since 1938 to protect Kona crab, which may have contributed to the health of the stock, according to the newspaper, which said the most recent regulation passed by the Hawai?i Legislature in 2006 banned taking or killing female crabs.

The Hawai?i Department of Land and Natural Resources Division may alter that rule based on the new assessment if the Legislature permits the change.

"In light of new Kona crab stock assessments provided by NOAA," the department is "considering allowing the take of females and extending the closed season," said department spokesman Dan Dennison.

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