By James Wright, SeaFood Business senior editor
Published on 19 March, 2011
Members of the National Fisheries Institute’s Crab Council that source blue-swimming crabs from Indonesia and the Philippines have adopted a minimum-size requirement, a sustainability initiative designed to end harvesting of undersized crabs.
The 11 U.S. companies — John Keeler and Co., Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea Frozen Foods, Handy International, Heron Point Seafood, Lawrence Street Seafood, Newport International, Phillips Foods, RGE Agridev Corp., Supreme Lobster and Twin Tails Seafood — represent more than 60 percent of the U.S. market for blue-swimming crab products. The policy, requiring that crab carapaces measure at least 8 centimeters across, goes into effect on 1 July.
“The Council has been very clear with our sustainability partners in Indonesia and the Philippines that setting an 8-centimeter minimum — that’s carapace width measured tip to tip — is a first step. We’re following the science and regional regulations to ensure this policy is updated regularly for maximum impact,” said Tom Dykstra of Heron Point, who spearheaded the council’s Minimum Size Task Force along with Handy’s Brendan Sweeny.
“This effort has been a true collaboration that has seen competitors working together to bring not only science but strategy to the table to address this important issue,” added Sweeny.
The council members collectively fund nearly USD 500,000 in blue swimming crab sustainability work annually and have received three grants from the World Bank’s Allfish program.
“The work they fund and this new industry-leading, minimum-size policy has moved us to tell companies we work with that NFI Crab Council members are helping improve Blue Swimming Crab fisheries, and are responsible suppliers,” said Howard Johnson, director of global programs for Seattle-based Sustainable Fisheries Partnership.
The council is looking to expand its efforts from Indonesia and the Philippines to Vietnam and other countries.
For an in-depth look at the council members’ sustainability efforts, look for the Going Green feature in the April issue of SeaFood Business.