USAID, partners assist Philippines to harvest blue swimming crab sustainably

Published on
October 24, 2019

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners are cooperating to help the Philippines sustainably manage its blue swimming crab industry with a view to bolster exports to North American markets.

USAID, the Philippines’ Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the University of Rhode Island, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Philippine Association of Crab Processors, Saravia Blue Crab Inc., and Thai Union Group have signed a memorandum of understanding to improve the ecological sustainability of the blue swimming crab harvesting in the Philippines, according to a report from The Philippine Star.

The Philippines earns about USD 70 million (EUR 63.5 million) from the export of blue swimming crab each year, the majority of which is shipped to the U.S. to serve rising demand for sustainable seafood there. 

The fishery of blue swimming crab in the Visayan Sea, the Philippines' major crab fishing ground, accounts for roughly 40 percent of the Philippines’ blue swimming crab output and provides employment to 8,000 Filipino fisherfolk, the article said.

At present, due to unsustainable and environmentally harmful overfishing practices, the blue swimming crab from the Visayan Sea has been rated “red” or “avoid” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, an initiative that evaluates the sustainability of wild-caught and farmed seafood commonly found in the U.S. marketplace.

BFAR and the partners will roll out a national management plan to achieve higher Seafood Watch ratings to further expand the Philippines’ export potential in the sustainable seafood market. 

The partnership will engage local governments, private sector stakeholders, and fisherfolks to implement science-based management, reduce overfishing, and protect the blue swimming crab’s ecological habitats.

The Philippines produced 31,327 metric tons (MT) of the blue swimming crab in 2017, up nearly 10 percent year-on-year, according to a report from Monterey Bay Aquarium last year.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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