22 Jun Sustainable Mud Crab Harvesting Methods Reduces Impact on Merauke’s Mangrove Forests
Through the years, most of people in Merauke have been using ‘the iron rod’ method to harvest mud crabs. This iron rod method uses a ganco that has been modified to harvest the crab by hook them from their holes. This method also use machete to cut of branches of mangroves roots because usually the crab holes are hidden under the roots. Aside from the destruction of the mangroves itself, this method also yield a low quality catch due to missing or damaged claws by the ganco.
Through the Building a Sustainable Seafood Industry to Support Coastal Communities in the Arafura Sea’ (SeaNet Indonesia) Project. A women group in Merauke has adopted with a new enviromentally friendly way to catch mud crabs using a “crab pot” which does not only improving the quality and quantity of catch, it also manages to stop the destruction of the mangroves.
Sofina Amkai, the 53-year old leader of Crab Fishing Group in Samkai District has been catching crab from her 20s, everyday she walks together with her relative for five kilometers or 90 minutes to catch mud crabs. With the iron rod method she could catch around 5-6 crabs or even less, but with the new technique she learned from SeaNet Project, she is able to catch up to 20 pieces at one time.
“With these crab pot method I can come back with 15 pieces, even up to 20. When the water is clear it means less catch for us, but if the water is cloudy, it means there is a lot of crabs, so I can come home with a decent amount,” she said.
SeaNet has also taught the women how to package the crabs and market them so it can sell at a higher price. The crab will be sold alive by wrapping them with banana stem, this wrapping also help to lessen the stress on crab that in turn can mantain it’s freshness. Not only Sofina, the other women that part of the groups also found it was more effective in catching crabs compared to the iron rod, although it needed to be checked regularly to avoid crabs escaping. Overall, when compared to the iron rod, the crab pots delivered 87% increase in catch and are lighter to carry around. This makes them more desirable to use and will in turn reduce the incidental destruction of mangroves while harvesting crabs.
Recognizing the challenges marine resource-dependent fishing communities face, SeaNet Indonesia aims to improve the economic and environmental value of fisheries in the Arafura Sea and improve the livelihoods of marine resource dependent Indonesian fishing communities, as well as empower women with economic roles within the fisheries communities. SEANET is being implemented by CTC, in collaboration with TierraMar, and funded by the Australian Government.