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Sunday, February 22, 2015, Falgun 10, 1421 BS, Jamadi ul Awwal 2, 1436 Hijr


Local crab farming sees success
Published : Sunday, 22 February, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 30

Saifunnahar Sumi
About 80-85 per cent of crab exported from Bangladesh is caught from natural sources, especially Sundarban mangrove forest.
The rest 15-20 per cent are collected through fattening as local commercial farming, though on a small scale, is now also going on successfully.
The indiscriminate catch of crab creates ecological imbalance in the biodiversity of the Sundarban. The rampant catch of mud crab (Scylla crab) destroys other marine species. Collected crabs die during the post-collection period and transportation poses a threat to environment and causes economic losses, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) said. 
According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh exported crab, especially Scylla crab worth Tk3.5 billion in 2013-14 fiscal year. The export volume has jumped about 38 per cent in the last 15 years, EPB data showed.
China is the major destination of Bangladeshi crab, accounting for as much as 92.70 per cent of its exports in 2013-2014 and other destinations are Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea, BFRI data said.
Only two companies in Cox's Bazar and Shatkhira export crab through farming of soft shell crab and two more entrepreneurs have taken initiatives to produce crab, BFRI said.
One species of Scylla crab 'Scylla serata' has a commercial value. It is cultivated by fattening method in hatcheries in a small amount in Khulna and Chittagong regions.
The other one Scylla Olivacea is available in Bangladesh's Sundarban which is not seen in the Indian part of the mangrove forest, conservation experts said.
Parulia of Satkhira near the Sundarban is the biggest depot in the region where 30 per cent of total mud crab are extracted, businesses of Satkhira said.
Parulia Crab Processing Traders Association President Gopal Bishwash said everyday they process 7.0 tonnes of mud crab in Parulia. The volume fluctuates in different seasons.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has taken up a project to farm crab in Cox's Bazar building on the success of hatchery production technology of mud crab seed up to the crablets size for the first time in Bangladesh.
The USAID-Aquaculture for Income and Nutrition (AIN) project implemented by WorldFish invented production of crab seed to crablets size which  started from November 2014.
The mud crab breeding trial has been conducted in collaboration between the USAID-AIN project and the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI) in Cox's Bazar with an aim to increase sustainability of mud crab farming, which presently involves the fattening of the small wild-caught mud crabs by feeding trash fish (including tilapia and snails).
Erik H. J. Keus, Chief of Party of AIN project said, "Availability of crab seed from a hatchery will reduce pressure on the natural crab of the Sundarban and will increase availability of crab seed for grow out, leading to higher production without interruptions due to shortage of seed."
"Although Marine Fisheries & Technology Station (MFTS), BFRI and WorldFish joint efforts have been succeeded in the production of crablets for the first time in Bangladesh, the government has already taken initiatives for the development of crab fishery through approval of a Development Project Proposal (DPP) which will lead to commercial production of crab in the coastal area of Bangladesh, Chief Scientific Officer of BFRI, Dr. Enamul Haque said.
The project will be implemented by Department of Fisheries (DoF) and BFRI in greater Khulna and Cox's Bazar regions, he said.
Mohammad Shahad Mahabub Choudhury, Project Manager, Updating Species Red List of Bangladesh Project of International Union for Conservation of IUCN, told this correspondent that any type of wild animal should not be caught though it is more available in nature in line with WILDLIFE (CONSERVATION AND SECURITY) ACT, 2012.
"Enlistment of the crab in the Red List would be considered, he said adding that catch from Sundarban affect other marine species" Shahad Mahabub Choudhury said.
The Bangladesh list of Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) does not contain crab.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister Mr. Muhammed Sayedul Hoque on Tuesday gave a directive to make a crab stock list.  
The current crab sector is dependent upon wild-caught crablets from the Sundarban which is unsustainable, WorldFish consultant Aung Sein said adding that Bangladesh is well suited for crab production. So a profitable crab hatchery sector is important for the future of crab culture in this country. 
National Coordinator of Bangladesh Mangroves for the Future Initiative Anwara Begum Shelly said if the government wants to promote export of mud crabs it should introduce hatcheries and nurseries as India, Myanmar and Thailand did for cultivation of farm varieties rather than allowing collection from the nature. But the mortality rate is high.
"The government should enforce laws in connection with crab hunting, ban hunting during breeding season, help generate alternative employment for the dependants on crab hunting etc," she said adding that for a sustainable marine economy, we need immediate reforestation throughout the coastal areas.


















Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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