Red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) in the eastern Okhotsk Sea: Problems of stock management and research

Red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) in the eastern Okhotsk Sea: Problems of stock management and research

B.G. Ivanov

Red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) in the eastern Okhotsk Sea: Problems of stock management and researchThis is part of Crabs in Cold Water Regions: Biology, Management, and Economics
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Description

This paper provides a historical review and a description of the current status of red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) fisheries off the western coast of Kamchatka. The principal fishing areas are situated in the northern part of the western Kamchatka shelf. Reproduction areas and nursery grounds for the whole of the west Kamchatka red king crab metapopulation are located here. The review provides data for red king crab fisheries from 1924 to 1999 by the USSR or Russia and Japan. An outline of the basic directions of red king crab biological research is given, and biological results are analyzed that were used in red king crab population management. Increasing the legal commercial size from 13 to 15 cm CW (carapace width) is considered as an example of an effective management measure that proved quite beneficial for the population. The importance of recruit protection through the creation of the Northern Closed Area is also noted. Some problems involved in red king crab research and management are discussed. For many years crab total allowable catches off western Kamchatka were possibly under estimated. Remarkably, no compensatory increase was recorded in the Soviet/Russian catch of crab after Japanese fishers left the west Kamchatka area in 1975. In the late 1990s a number of changes in the population were recorded that were considered by some workers as evidence of a "critical state" of the population. The changes are briefly discussed. The author believes that the metapopulation shows a great adaptability and resistance to changes in the environment. In particular, "zones of sterile expatriation" can sometimes be important for self-propagation. In recent times poaching, which includes underreporting, has become significant.

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