BFAR partners with PACPI for Ubay lambay hatchery

Aiming to sustainably replenish the stocks of swimming blue crabs (lambay) in Bohol, the government and a private sector group signed an agreement to formally establish a hatchery for the crustaceans popularly imported for their meat here at the local Multi Species Hatchery.

The government through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional Director Dr. Allan L. Poquita and Robert G. Eduardo chairman of the Philippine Association of Crab Processors Inc. ( PACPI) formally signed the agreement to mutually cooperate in the production of blue swimming crab August 30, here at the Multi species hatchery right in the middle of Danajon Double Barrier Reef.

Dr. Poquita said the historic event marks the rebirth of the blue crab meat industry through sustaining stocks in the region severely depleted by over harvesting in the past.

He said the project is consistent with BFAR mandate to promote the replenishment and propagation of crabs and achieve food security.

Here, the project intends to acquire suitable berried female crabs from fishers, but them at premium prices and bring them to the hatchery for spawning, according to Chairman Eduardo.

The ultimate goal is to be able to produce at least 20,000 to 30,000 hatchlings every month which would be dispersed to BFAR identified areas along the beneficiary towns and islands along the Danajon Bank, Dir Poquita added.

One of the projects goal is to enhance the Spawning Potential Ratio for blue crabs to a sustainable levels of at least 30%, according to PACPI Executive Director Josette Emlen Genio.

This means that of a female crabs average of 80,000 eggs, only 27% survive and mature enough to spawn, Genio cites recent blue crab studies by BFAR, PACFI and ECOFish.

Common at the Danajon and elsewhere in the Visayas, swimming blue crab (portunus pelagicus) is the country’s 4th in production volume for fishery commodity and 3rd in value production, BFAR emphasized.

However, swimming blue crabs which fetch a P180 to 200 a kilo in wet markets need to go past a gauntlet of obstacles including predation, undersized harvesting and a local culture running counter to sustainable harvest practices to make it past reproduction age.

Visayans prefer to harvest and eat berried or gravid crabs; the eggs indicate good meat.

The Memorandum of Agreement allows BFAR to allocate space, equipment and facilities for lambay production, advance mechanisms to curb the harvest of undersized and egg-bearing females, provide technical supervision in the hatchery production, identify future dispersal activities and monitor stocks, documenting the entire production progress process.

The agreement also makes PACPI provide technical and non technical staff and honorarium who will partner with the hatchery manager, give financial support to the project operation including acquisition of broodstock, feeds, fertilizers for natural food culture and facilities maintenance, provide additional equipment and supplies if needed and help BRAF document the processes.

For the one year project duration, PACPI dedicates P742,200.00 for the operation expenses and wages plus additional supplies and equipment if needed and a separate budget of P354,200.oo for post project assessment to determine the impacts of the hatchery reared-crablets to the wild stocks. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

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