VIRAC, Catanduanes—Provincial Gov. Joseph Cua has given his assurance that with the local crab-development program now in place, Catanduanes would be able to reclaim the title of “crab capital” of the Philippines, which it lost to Negros province about three decades ago.
He gave the optimistic outlook in a recent provincial One Town, One Product (Otop) assembly at the Capitol Dome, where he said the Catanduanes Crab Center (CCC) established last year has been able to address the rampant poaching and illegal transport of crablets out of the island.
Crabmeat processing has been considered as among the Otop choices of at least three municipalities of the province known for the abundance of mud crabs in its coastal and swampy areas.
The CCC was also able to standardize the operations of the crab nursery and the culture of crab larvae to crablet sizes for local grow-out production, Cua said.
The establishment of the CCC was under a provincial ordinance that prescribes more severe penalties for crablet poaching and smuggling.
For decades, enterprising Catandunganons, in cahoots with buyers from Luzon and the Visayas, have been into poaching and selling of crablets despite prohibitions on these activities, the governor said.
The CCC, with its nursery in barangay Palnab here, serves as the bagsakan or buying station for crablets gathered by residents from all over the province, mostly from the municipalities of the crab-rich Bagamanoc, Panganiban and Viga towns.
In 2006 the province of Camarines Norte first gained popularity when an organized group of crab growers started marketing crabmeat to other parts of the country. It was discovered later that the province derived its supply of raw materials from these three Catanduanes towns.
“We see to it now that all crablets gathered from all our producing areas go to the CCC that the provincial government buys at prices higher than those offered by unscrupulous traders illegally exporting them outside the province,” he said.
While these traders pay P6 for a crablet, the governor said the province buys them at P8 to P10, providing the gatherers a collective income of about P5 million since the start of the operation of the CCC as a bagsakan barely nine months ago.
“We are now in control of the flow of crablets out of the province, giving local crab growers all the opportunities not only to engage in fattening, but also in raising high quality crablets for the provincial government that facilitates its marketing to other provinces or regions,” Cua stressed.
In its function as the marketing arm of crablets for growers and aquaculture operators outside the province, he said the CCC was able to generate over P1 million this year, an amount set aside for the expansion of its operations and fund assistance to other crab-production ventures in the province, both of local governments or private-sector entrepreneurs.
To further protect the industry from illegal activities, the province has created a task force that apprehends on sight crablets found in the hands of poachers. However, Cua said he is not enforcing the penalty. Instead, money received by those caught selling will be confiscated.
“No confiscation [of products], no imprisonment for the time being,” the governor said, guaranteeing that the policy will gradually teach the people that it is also important to cooperate and work with their government for a change.
“We are also in close coordination with various government agencies in our efforts to regain our lost glory of being the crab center of the country. The Department of Labor and Employment [DOLE] has provided a fund grant to the Panganiban town crab center as part of our joint undertaking of creating more jobs out of our crab industry,” he said.
The Department of Science and Technology also had its crab-fattening program in the province being implemented with the Pagkasararo Multipurpose Cooperative Inc. in barangay Cabuyoan, Panganiban town.
The program facilitates the transfer of technology on the method and techniques in crab management and feeding, crab-cage construction, and efficient handling and packaging of fattened crabs for marketing. Crabs produced under this technology command higher prices, he pointed out.
The provincial government is allocating funds for the purchase of three backhoes to be used in developing fishponds not only for growing crabs, but also for the polyculture of bangus and tilapia, which he said substitute for marine products in times of rough seas and inclement weather.
The governor said he encourages Catandunganons to engage in the crab business, which ultimately will prove to be a much better and bigger revenue producer than the abaca industry that is currently the main money earner for the province. (PNA)
Source: Business Mirror - Monday, 12 October 2009 20:32RELATED LINKS:
- Austere Start for Payo's Crab Fest - The 1st Crab (Kinis) Festival was considered by organizers a "success" even if the original one-day event was squeezed into two hours of street dancing and an hour of eating delicious sea food.
- Mud Crab Culture Technology - Studies conducted at SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department, some in collaboration with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
- One Town One Product (OTOP) - Matured mud crabs are very expensive at high-end restaurants in Manila, either flaked or live crabs. There should be effort to curb crablet smuggling and put an end to it by promoting mud crab culture and eventually a hatchery.