Cooked blue crabs from E.B. Magalona town, a major producer of the commodity in Negros Occidental. (PNA Bacolod file photo)
BACOLOD CITY -- The Negros Occidental provincial government is pushing for sustainability and adequate supply of blue crabs in the province.
Former governor Rafael Coscolluela, provincial consultant on investment promotions, export, and trade development, said on Tuesday that it is important to remember the sustainability of fishery products like the blue swimming crabs.
At the Commodity Investment Forum held at the Provincial Capitol here, he urged fishery stakeholders to allow crablets to grow into a marketable size for sustainability and adequate supply.
According to the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the blue crab industry in Negros amounted to PHP8 billion in 2016, citing figures from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Coscolluela said that undersized crabs should be released back to the sea instead of selling these in the market, adding that Negrenses cannot overfish or overcatch these crabs otherwise a large industry can go extinct.
“Local government units and all other stakeholders that have anything to do with the crabs must be aware of the policies and the need for measures to maintain its viable population,” he added.
In Negros Occidental, production areas for blue swimming crabs are in the coastal areas of Cauayan town in the south stretching toward Escalante City in the north.
E.B. Magalona, situated in northern Negros, is considered the province’s major producer of blue crabs, with a current average production of about five tons per day, mostly for exports.
Coscolluela noted that there has been an ordinance since 2003, prohibiting the “catching and selling” of crablets in the province.
“There might be problems in the enforcement. We should let blue swimming crabs grow. We should continue seeding crablets in the coastal areas to ensure continuing population,” he said.
Coscolluela added that if market inspectors strictly prohibit the selling of undersized crabs, this will send a stronger message to the fisherfolk that “if there’s no market, then they will also refrain from harvesting it.”
He said there’s a need to stop the selling of crablets in restaurants since these should be released to grow into a marketable and exportable size.
“The only question now is how do we put in place the program that will ensure the sustainability and adequate supply of blue swimming crabs?” he added. (PNA)