Rapid assessment of crab industry set - CS
posted 6-Aug-2018  ·  
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A rapid assessment of the crab industry in Catanduanes will be done once the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10857 is signed, Congressman Cesar Sarmiento announced last week during the 1st Catanduanes Mangrove Crab Forum.

In his message to industry stakeholders, the solon said that under this assessment, an inventory of existing fishponds will be made in order to identify those which have been developed, developed but under-utilized, and those that have been abandoned.

The abandoned or underutilized fishponds will then be made available for crab fattening purposes to the public, Sarmiento stated, adding that the assessment will also provide much-needed data regarding the mudcrab industry on the island.

He bared that at the present, there are no statistics to back up Catanduanes’ claim as the mangrove crab capital of the Philippines.

Vowing to secure funding for the development of the industry during the upcoming budget deliberations in Congress, he said he will have the IRR signed as soon as possible and ensure that funding would be available for fishpond construction.

“Catanduanes is lucky to have a law intended only for setting up mangrove crab seed banks in 10 of the island’s 11 towns,” he declared during the forum attended by Bureau of Fisheries Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Undersecretary for Fisheries Eduardo Gongona, Fisheries Division Chief Atty. Ronald Tulay, BFAR Regional Director Dennis del Socorro, Catanduanes State University (CSU) President Dr. Minerva Morales, SEAFDEC researchers led by associate researcher Joana Joy Huervana, UN consultant Dr. Nerlita Manalili and BFAR in-charge Jorge Camacho.

Also present were Panganiban Mayor Robert Fernandez, Pandan Mayor Raul Tabirara, Atty. Jorge Sarmiento, the respective Sangguniang Bayan fishery committee chairs, crab gatherers and stockers, fatteners, and personnel of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard.

Dir. Del Socorro lauded Rep. Sarmiento for sponsoring Republic Act 10857, which seeks to establish mangrove crab seed banks, nurseries, and grow-out farms to spur production and increase profitability among local crab growers.

Discussing the forum’s rationale, CSU Pres. Morales said it aims to understand and address threats, concerns and issues of various industry players to upscale in quality and quantity mangrove crab production and associated economic ventures.

The forum seeks to gather stakeholders to support mangrove crab programs and initiatives, update them on the Catanduanes Mangrove Crab Investment Plan, provide aquaculture technologies appropriate for Catanduanes to increase production, and provide inputs and comments to the IRR of the law.

The island province is a major source of wild seedstocks or crablets, according to BFAR, with nine of its 11 municipalities providing crablets bought by buyers from mainland Bicol as well as from Pampanga, Bulacan, Pangasinan, Mindoro, and Iloilo.

As of 2014, the island had a mangrove area of 1,421 hectares, with fishponds occupying 589 hectares. Industry players then consisted of nearly 400 crablet gatherers, 122 fishpond operators, 31 aquasilvi crab farm operators, and 99 stockers.

The report of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist identified the industry concerns as unprotected spawning grounds, rampant illegal fishing, unabated gathering of crablets, unprotected mangrove areas, exploited communal fishing grounds as well as heavy siltation, water pollution, and climate change effects.

In the same forum, Usec. Gongona called on local officials to protect municipal waters so that high-value fish such as yellowfin tuna will continue to feed within the 15-kilometer waters.

“LGUs are critical here, if they do not protect the municipal waters, the ocean will have no fish," he said, adding that the local governments will be given everything the national government has the capacity to give.

Pointing out that 82 million Filipinos eat fish, with each of them consuming 38.2 kilograms of fish every year, Gongona said all government agencies should help maintain the share of captive fish production at 60 percent by cracking down on illegal fishing, establishing marine protected areas, and installing cold storage facilities to reduce wastage.

He also expressed the need to harmonize municipal and commercial fishing by allowing the latter within 10.5 kilometers off the coasts so as to catch fish that would otherwise be harvested by trawlers of other nations, and to allow local fishing boats to use superlights.

He also disclosed that BFAR will be loaning out cold storage facilities and reefer vans to coastal towns at a very affordable rate, with three allocated for Catanduanes.

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