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LGUs act to protect crab resources

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – Three municipalities in northern Cagayan have come-up with legislation aiming to protect and conserve crabs, as well as other fishery resources.

The Bureau  of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources here, on the other hand, continue to assist the Babuyan Channel Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council in the crafting and dissemination of a draft municipal ordinance for same purpose.

This, amid grumbles at the local level on unsustainable practices with regards to the catching of crablets.

To address the issue, the town of Gonzaga has issued Ord. No. 3, series of 2018 declaring a total ban on the catching of crablets, elvers, and goby fry (ipon) for a period of five years, starting January 2019.

Neighboring Buguey, on the other hand, has an existing ordinance prohibiting the gathering of crablets less than 5 centimeters in size. The ordinance further states that crablets gathered shall not be exported but instead, should only be sold within the town. Buguey is known as the Crab Capital of the North.

Aparri, meanwhile, is currently finalizing its ordinance that will regulate the catching, selling and shipment of crablets.

Cagayan province exports crablings and/or crablets to other provinces such as Pampanga and Bulacan, however, there has been a considerable decline in the production of crabs in recent years, that can be attributed to unsustainable catching of its seed materials.

Fishers have also complained that the manner of catching crab seed materials destroy their habitat, and causes wastage to a high volume of by-catch or non-target species.

Fishing gear used is locally known as ‘sayut’. This is shaped like a trawl with an opening of around 22 meters and length of around 24 – 25 meters. The front to mid-part portion is made of fine mesh net  while at its conical end or bag is made of flour bag.

Fisherfolk set this  along the sea shore using fixed poles (tulus), opposite of the water flow, and  at the lowest part that can be reached by the water or waves. Collected crablets, locally known as ‘rissing’ are smaller than a monggo seed.

The allegation that by-catch die during the gathering process is true, taking into account the make of the bag which is totally enclosed. This has the tendency to crumple due to wave action, thus killing the small fishes trapped inside.

Other crab species other than king crab, such as blue swimming crab are also left to die during the sorting process.

BFAR RO2 Regional Director said that the agency shall continue to assist LGUs in the enactment of fishery ordinances as to technical and legal aspect, and on the enforcement of said ordinances alongside national laws on fisheries. (max prudencio BFAR RO2)