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Crab Centre Set Up to Beat Illegal Trading

PHILIPPINES - A crab centre has been established on Catanduanes in the Philippines in a bid to stop the illegal trading of crab larvae and crablets to the Luzon mainland and the Visayas from the island.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the provincial board, passed an ordinance setting up the centre and laying down guidelines, policies, rules and regulations in the gathering, standardising of crab nursery operation, culture of crab larvae into crablet sizes for disposal to different local fishpond operators and, if supply warrants, marketing outside the province, according to the Catanduanes Tribune.

The move follows a proposal from Governor Joseph C. Cua upon the recommendation of OIC-provincial agriculturist Wilfredo Talay, that seeks to establish Catanduanes as the "Crab Capital of the Philippines."

Sponsored by PBM Nel Asanza, the measure seeks to put a stop to the smuggling out of crab larvae and crablets by the thousands each day to buyers outside the province despite the existence of a similar ordinance banning its transport outside Catanduanes.

The Catanduanes Tribune says the municipal agriculture offices had been alerting the provincial government of its ill effects on the local crab industry and ecology, particularly the alarming depletion of the unique crab species found only in Catanduanes which could jeopardize the livelihood of legitimate crab raisers.

The Crab Centre will be established at the demonstration fish farm of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Catanduanes State Colleges in Palnab, Virac, and at the provincial government-owned Panganiban demonstration fish farm and nursery at San Pedro, Panganiban. The CSC-BFAR demo farm, which is to be leased by the province, and the Panganiban center will be the source of crablets for grow-out and fattening by fishpond operators.

An initial P3 million has been appropriated by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan for the centre, with the revenues generated to be used for its expansion and other aquaculture developments in the province.

It will be under the administrative and financial control of the Office of the Governor, with its operation to be handled by the Provincial Agricultural Services Office (PASO) and the Crab Center Executive Board (CCEB), the Catanduanes Tribune says.

Under the set-up, the province or municipality concerned will put up a seed fund to buy the catch of various crab larvae and crablet gatherers through an accredited stocker, who in turn will sell the same to the province at a small profit. The Center will dispose of the juvenile crabs to different modular cage or fishpond operators, with the local crab farmers and Center beneficiaries to be provided technical assistance.

A special programme for "Queen" or "gravid" crabs will be created to ensure the sustainability of the crab industry in Catanduanes.

The order makes the gathering or catching of crab larvae illegal; and, stocking, trading or shipping out of juvenile crabs of any volume without permit from the LGU.

Any person found violating this law will be meted fines ranging from P1,500 to P5,000 as well as confiscation of the crab larvae or crablet and/or imprisonment at the discretion of the Court. On the other hand, a 20% incentive, based on the value of confiscated crab larvae and crablets, will be granted to any informant.

View the Catanduanes Tribune story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy

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