Promoting responsible aquaculture for the sustainable production of soft-shell crabs
Soft-shell crabs command a high price because these could be eaten whole when cooked. Myanmar, Viet Nam, and Thailand are among the Southeast Asian countries that produce considerable quantities of soft-shell crabs mostly sold to local restaurants as well as exported to Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and the USA. Production of soft-shell crabs is an emerging technology in the Philippines, where the demand for this product has been increasing and the technology becoming a growing interest. With prices that could range from US$ 10 to US$ 15 US$ or higher per kilogram depending on the size, soft-shell crabs are bought in bulk by elite restaurants in the Philippines that usually serve this delicacy with complimentary food or drinks. Although the demand for soft-shell crabs is high, production is still unstable due to lack of seedstocks, which are mainly sourced from the wild. To reduce the pressure on the natural population, SEAFDEC/AQD has initiated the development of soft-shell crab technology using hatchery-produced seedstocks, and is currently promoting the use of hatchery-produced seedstocks for soft-shell crab farming to local and international stakeholders all over the Southeast Asian region through its training courses. With funding support from the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) through its National Mud Crab Science and Technology Program (NMCSTP), SEAFDEC/AQD has intensified the development of the soft-shell crab technology. Applicable to all mangrove (mud) crab species, the technology for the production of soft-shell crabs could now be pursued using hatchery-produced seedstocks is described in this article.