The eco-friendly farming of mudcrabs
By Roberto Garcia
THE mudcrab is always considered a seafood delicacy and usually served on special occasions at home or in seafood restaurants. However, the limited supply makes it an expensive item and therefore a good candidate for culture.
There are many ways to culture mudcrabs (Scylla spp.) but farming them in mangrove areas where these animals naturally thrive is worth considering. This method is being practiced successfully in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China for some years and it is only now that it is being introduced in the country. In fact, successful pilot projects have been done in specific areas in Luzon and Visayas, making it commercial production for mudcrabs viable.
So how is it done?
The following procedure was developed by SEAFDEC (Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center) which pioneered the project:
- Select a mangrove area with a depth of at least 0.5 to one meter at high tide, protected from strong winds and waves, and free from pollution.
- Enclose about 0.2 to 1 hectare of the area with bamboo-net fence topped with plastic sheet to prevent the escape of crabs.
- Stock the pen enclosure with 30-50 grams of young crabs at 5,000 per hectare and feed them with trash fish, animal entrails and hides, snails and /or commercial feeds made especially for mudcrabs if available.
- Harvest the crabs when they reach 200 grams or more, or approximately after 4-6 months from stocking.
Mudcrab pen culture in mangrove areas has distinct advantages compared to pond-based farming: low investment cost in terms of materials and culture area; ease of construction of the net enclosure which can be done with family labor; and environment-friendly since there will be no cutting of trees or major digging in the mangrove area. For these reasons, this method is suitable for fisherfolk in coastal areas of Pangasinan where young mudcrabs and mangrove areas for growing them abound.