Monday, March 3, 2014

DA regulates capture of kasag or blue swimming crab

Unknown to many, a new law regulating the capture of blue swimming crabs, locally known as kasag, is about to be implemented.

It will be noted that the market supply of the crustacean scientifically called Portunus pelagicus, is dwindling as there is an alleged overfishing of the marine organism.

Kasag or blue swimming crab (Portunus pelagicus)
PHOTO: OSCAR ESMENDA/BICOL STANDARD
Joint Administrative Order No. 1-2014 of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) prohibits the capture of crabs with a carapace less than 10.2 centimeters or 4 inches. It also restricts the harvesting of egg-bearing or berried crabs. Lastly, it prescribes minimum measurements for the sizes of crab traps and nets.

The selective ban seeks to ensure the sustainability of the blue swimming crab, which the DA says is now steadily decreasing because of the depletion of the breeding stock of crabs. The same law aims to provide insights on the current state of the blue swimming crab industry, encourage the use of environmentally-friendly traps, and allow for the protection of young crabs.

A closed season will also be established to allow the crabs to breed. During such period, the capture of the blue swimming crab will be completely prohibited.

DA Bicol Regional Executive Director Abelardo explained to the media that once the administrative order becomes effective, crab fishers must register the number of fishing gear that they own, including the size and length of their nets.

The administrative order allows the use of single-layer crab entangling nets with at least 11 centimeterr; crab nets with at least 3-centimeter mesh nets, and crab pots or traps with holes of at least 5 centimeters in diameter. In addition to these, egg-bearing or berried crabs should be allowed to breed if they are caught by fishers. In such case, they should be put into cages where breeding would be possible.

Meanwhile, the order requires crab traders and processors to apply for a local transport permit and a security invoice before transporting the crabs.
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The order imposes a fine of P2,000 to P20,000 or imprisonment of six months to two years on those who violate the minimum measurement of the crab or the mesh size. Owners of vessels which are used to capture crabs  will also face the same penalty, apart from have their permits and licenses revoked, if found guilty of violating the requirements.

Traders who do not comply with the requirement on the auxiliary invoice and local transport permit will be penalized with a fine of P200 to 1,000, along with imprisonment between five to ten days.
The Philippine Blue Swimming Crab Management Plan describes the blue swimming crab as a crustacean with a “carapace [that] is hard, rough and broadly flattened extending to nine protrusions on the sides with the last one quiet pronounced. It has a single pair of chelae, with three pairs of long ridged legs and a pair of modified legs as swimming paddles. Generally, the color of female and male blue swimming crab is mottled brown and mottled blue, respectively.”

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