NEWS

Coconut Crab ‘Endangered’

The growth of the coconut crab is very slow and heavily influenced by environmental factors, which is considered a key reason why the species cannot be commercially cultured
23 Feb 2019 10:00
Coconut Crab ‘Endangered’
Varieties of coconut crabs which are becoming extinct.

The coconut crab, considered a delicacy, has been banned in Fiji since 2017.

The Ministry of Fisheries said in a statement that the coconut crab was classified an endangered spe­cies on March 28, 2017 under the Endangered and Protected Species (Amendment) Act, (No. 10 of 2017) (Amendment Act).

The state­ment fur­ther said: “The crab can only be found on a few islets in Fiji. These crabs have been re­ported on Yadua and Aiwa Islands, Cikobia Island in Macuata, Kabara in the Lau Group, Qelelevu Atoll in the Ringgold Isles and on privately owned islands in Northern Lau.

There could be other remote iso­lated islands in Fiji which may be inhabited by coconut crabs which have yet to be documented.

“The growth of the coconut crab is very slow and heavily influenced by environmental factors, which is considered a key reason why the species cannot be commercially cultured.

It takes from 40 to 60 years before the crabs reach their maximum size.

“The major threats for coconut crabs include predation, over-harvesting, habitat destruction for tourism developments and its biol­ogy.

Development along the coast­line of islands has modified or de­stroyed much of this crab’s habi­tat.”

The ministry also said the juve­nile coconut crab was vulnerable to introduced carnivores such as rats, wild pigs, and ants.

Moving forward the Ministry of Fisheries’ research division has proposed a national stock assess­ment for coconut crab this year.

The results of the survey will de­termine the management strate­gies for the management and con­servation of this species in Fiji.

About the coconut crabs

The coconut crab is the largest land dwelling crustacean. It is one of the most terrestrial decapods with powerful claws which are used for husking coconuts.

Coconut crabs may weigh up to 4 kilograms with legs which span up to a metre and 200 mm in carapace width.

Feedback: swashna.chand@fijisun.com.fj

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