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Profile updated on 13 September 2023
Mola rock crab, Jaiba marmola, stone crab
According to Nations (1975; in (Veliz et al. 2022)), the distribution of the Mola rock crab goes from Ecuador to Southern Chile. In Chilean territory, the species extends from the Arica region to Magellan Strait in Chile (Aedo et al. 2009) (Martinez 1986 in (Pardo et al. 2017)), and to the Beagle Channel (Vinuesa et al. 1999). Studies conducted in various locations of the Chilean coast indicate that the population is genetically homogeneous, with high connectivity along its geographical distribution; likely owing to the species’ high fecundity and larval dispersion capability, among other reproductive characteristics (Rojas-Hernandez et al. 2014)(Ferrada Fuentes et al. 2018)(Veliz et al. 2022), but if there is only one stock along its entire distribution is still unknown.
The vast majority of Chile’s production of mola rock crab is reported in the Los Lagos Region (X), followed by the Aysén (XI) Region, accounting for on average 76% and 21%, respectively, of the total national mola rock crab catch (Sernapesca Yearbook data, 2018-2021). In the Los Lagos Region, the Bay of Ancud, to the north of Chiloé Island, has historically been noted as the area of greatest importance in terms of landings (Pool et al. 1998)(Aedo et al. 2009)(Yañez 2017). The Instituto de Fomento Pesquero (IFOP) publishes stock assessments for some regions, most consistently for the Los Lagos Region (i.e. (Yañez and Ibarra 2022)). Since 2015, the Los Lagos Region assessments for mola rock crab have considered only data from Ancud Bay; a decision based on the objective of exploring smaller-scale processes for extrapolation to the entire region, and a theoretical understanding that populations of the species in certain oceanographically unique locations, whether genetically distinct or not, may function akin to a biologicially distinct unit (Yañez 2017). Regulations of the fishery is primarily administered at the national level (Pardo et al. 2017)(Yañez 2017)(Yañez 2019). However, there are management committees in the Los Lagos and Aysén Regions (Subpesca 2020), and some specific regulations for the Los Lagos Region (MEFT 2011)(Cavieres et al. 2016)(Yañez 2017).