Govt rolls out new BSC management plan


The Department of Agriculture (DA) has started to implement an industry plan which aims to make the production of blue swimming crab (BSC) more sustainable in view of the growing demand for the aquatic animal.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar issued Memorandum Circular (MC) 22 Series of 2021 ordering the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to implement the new BSC national management plan (BSC-NMP) 2021-2025. MC 22 took effect on October 15.

Under the MC, Dar instructed the BFAR and its regional field offices to “incorporate into their plans the actions identified in the BSC-NMP.”

“BSC industries in the value chain, including fishers, buyers, traders, processors and exporters, [will] support the implementation of the BSC-NMP, including co-financing fishery improvement and sustainability projects,” the MC read.

“BFAR and Stakeholders [will] institutionalize participative commodity platforms for the sustainable management of the BSC.”

The DA said a comprehensive review was undertaken a year before the completion of the implementation of the BS-NMP “to respond to emerging concerns and issues of the industry.”

“The next-cycle BSC-NMP for 2020 onwards established the regulations for the conservation and management of blue swimming crabs including the minimum carapace width to be traded, the protection of crab nursery areas, and the establishment of closed season and fishing grounds,” it added.

The DA said the BSC-NMP is aligned with the strategies and actions stipulated in the Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan (CNFIDP) Medium Term Plan 2016-2020 and is guided by the provisions of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The DA said the BSC-NMP was updated through an in-depth and inclusive multi-stakeholder sector Root Cause Analysis conducted by the Global Marine Commodities (GMC) project.

The GMC project is a collaborative project of the United Nations’ Development Programme and the BFAR with support from the Global Environment Facility, with the goal of “mainstreaming sustainability in the value chain of important marine commodities from the developing countries,” such as BSCs and octopuses.

“The updated BSC-NMP is an industry plan which provides for the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders of the industry, including support to co-finance sustainability programs, and other initiatives in the transformation process from business-as-usual fishery management to sustainable fishery management,” MC 22 read.

Under the BSC-NMP-RCA report, the country’s BSC production in 2019 declined by 12.53 percent to 29,677.14 metric tons (MT) from 33,930 MT in 2018.

“SC traders, processors, and exporters have been experiencing limited supply due to the increasing demand for crabs by the increasing population in the country and elsewhere,” the report read.

“In terms of value, there has been fluctuation but increasing production values from 2004 until 2016, with promising increases in the 2 succeeding years.”

The value of BSC production nationwide in 2019 fell by 16.82 percent to P4.55 billion from P5.47 billion in 2018, according to the BSC-NMP-RCA report.

“As to the state of the BSC stocks, evidence reveals overexploitation. For example, as shown in Figure 9, a study on the BSC in the Western Visayas Sea shows a decreasing trend in catch per unit of effort (CPUE). The CPUE in 2017 alone shows that, on an average, a bottom set crab gill net can catch 1 crab per panel.”

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