OFFICIALS of the NEDA Board-Regional Development Committee for the Visayas (Visayas RDCom), representing local government units, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) swapped gear to launch the Blue Crab Gear Swap Program.
In a ceremony held on Nov. 3 in Tagbilaran City, Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto and Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, Visayas RDCom Chair, swapped lift nets with the BFAR-prescribed crab pots handed over by BFAR 7 Director Andres Bojos.
The concept of the Blue Crab Gear Swap Program was based on results of a study conducted by the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH), a US Agency for International Development-funded project that operates in coastal municipalities in Central and Eastern Visayas regions.
ECOFISH's one-year study on the spawning potential ratio (SPR) of blue swimming crabs in the municipalities of Talibon, Inabanga and Getafe of Bohol revealed an SPR of only 27 percent.
SPR is the proportion of the unfished reproductive potential left at any given level of fishing pressure.
Bojos said that with the Gear Swap Program, the agency wants to attain an SPR of 32 percent.
Results of the ECOFISH study also showed that existing gear used to catch blue crabs also catch juveniles, thus reducing the spawning potential of the remaining stocks.
Bojos said that the Gear Swap Program will initially focus on swapping lift nets, locally known as “sapyaw,” with crab pots that are 24 inches in diameter and eight to 10 inches high, which have a mesh size of 2.5 inches and valve diameter of 4.5 inches.
He said that 70 percent of the stocks caught using lift nets are immature, with an average size of 10 centimeters. In contrast, crab pots catch mostly mature crabs, with size average of 13 centimeters, way above the 10.2 centimeter minimum crab size required by law.
BFAR is ready to distribute 16,000 crab pots to local government units in exchange for lift nets. BFAR's target is to eventually phase out crab lift nets.
The launch, which was done during the Visayas RDCom meeting, was witnessed by NEDA 7 Director Efren Carreon. (PR)