Blue swimming crab to get Marine Stewardship Council Label

Move to preserve the species and promote sustainable fishing

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an international non-profit organisation, which promotes sustainable fishing, has proposed to bring blue swimming crab, one of the major catches in this region, under its label to preserve the species and promote its sustainable fishing.

The MSC has identified the species, also known as Flower Crab, in addition to Mandapam Flower Shrimp, the species caught in Mandapam area in Rameswaram island and Kanniyakumari Lobster, officials said at a workshop on ‘Blue swimming crab fishery improvement programme and launch of action plan,’ organised by Crab Meat Processors Association here on Wednesday.

Representatives of MSC, Fisheries department, Central Marine Fisheries Research Centre (CMFRI), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Coastal and Marine Protected Areas (CMPA) Fisheries Universities, crab meat exporters, World Wide Fund for Nature, Countryboat fishermen and other stakeholders attended the one-day workshop to draw the strategies for sustainable fishing of BSC.

The MSC label, which sets the standard for sustainable fishing, would command good export market and get best prices for the fishermen, the officials said addressing the workshop. The ‘Blue MSC label’ would ensure a science-based sustainable fishing, they said.

The officials also educated the fishermen on the ‘dos and don’ts’ while fishing the blue crabs. As part of sustainable fishing, the fishermen should catch crabs which measured above 90 mm carapace length and should strictly avoid catching berried female crabs which carried egg clusters, the officials said. The fishermen were also enlightened on the fishing method and type of nets used for catching the crabs and getting the MSC label.

E. Kathavarayan, Deputy Director of Fisheries, said 30 to 35 tonnes of blue crabs were caught in the district every day and the meat was exported mainly to the western countries. At least seven seafood companies were involved in the export of crab meat and they thrived mainly from the crab catch from Palk Bay, he said.

Every year, four million tonnes of crabs, valued at 40 million US dollars, were exported from the country and catch from this region – from Vellapatti in Gulf of Mannar to Adhiramapattinam in the Palk Bay – constituted 90% of the export, he said. The MSC label for blue crabs would go a long way in protecting the livelihood of country boat fishermen, he added.

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