The objective of this study was to determine the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) of the crab fishery in the Gulf of California by applying the catch-MSY method. This fishery occurs in two states—Sonora and Sinaloa, along the mainland coast of the Gulf of California—and involves two species: Callinectes hellicosus and Callinectes arcuatus. The main species supporting the fishery in both states is C. bellicosus, whereas C. arcuatus accounts for 5% of crab catches in Sonora and 20%–30% in Sinaloa. The catch-MSY method uses a set of viable r–k combinations to approximate MSY. The r–k combinations are the carrying capacity k and the maximum rate of population increase r for a given stock in a given ecosystem, which are required in most production models, such as the Schaefer model, to estimate MSY. Prior carrying capacity in this study was set arbitrarily from the maximum catches in a series evaluated to 100 times the maximum catch. This range ensures the real carrying capacity could be determined if catches were at MSY sometime during the period evaluated. Maximum potential could have been realized since 2006 for the Sinaloa stock and since 1996 for the Sonora stock. The evidence for these facts is that the catch per unit of effort decreased, and reductions were observed in the mean size of individuals; these changes occurred in the Sinaloa crab fishery. All methods devoted to management procedures of fisheries stocks entail a number of criticisms, and estimations of carrying capacity and stock biomass are costly; however, because sustainable fisheries are desired and data-poor stocks are common, a simple method like catch-MSY has proved be useful in the management of the crab fishery in the Gulf of California.
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Vol. 33 • No. 1