Diners endanger ‘stone' crabs

Friday - 08/07/2011 15:17

A project aimed at protecting "stone" crabs living in the Cham Island area of Hoi An city, situated in the central province of Quang Nam, has recently been approved by local authorities.

Implemented by the Management Board of the Cham Island Marine Protected Area (MPA), the three-year project plans to save the crab (gecarcoidea lalandii) whose numbers have been in sharp decline due to over-exploitation caused by the growth in tourism.

Although marine animals, the crabs live in spring and small rocky caves jotted along the island and baby crabs are delivered in the sea, between May and August, f-rom whe-re they make their ways back to the island.

Its tasty, creamy meat has turned the dark purple crab into a local delicacy. Playing an important role in local livelihoods, crabs can be found on sale in iron baskets in front of every house, together with dried fish or squid.

Due to its popularity, the crab has been faced with over-hunting due to rising tourist numbers following the UNESCO decision to recognise the Cham Island as a World Biosphere Reserve in 2009.

Due to the significant role that crabs play in the local ecology, tourism and socio-economic development, local authorities banned crab hunting in 2009, despite which crab numbers have still not fully recovered.

According to Chu Manh Trinh, f-rom the Management Board of the Cham Island MPA and head of the crab protection project, experts plan to cre-ate a map indicating crab protection areas as well as a "crab bank", set up in an area of the island with a suitable ecological environment in which crabs could multiply.

"In the ‘crab bank' we will apply ecological breeding technologies in order to assist the crabs to lay eggs and increase in number within a natural environment," Trinh said.

Additional regulations on crab hunting will also be designed by which locals will be allowed to hunt crabs, with shells f-rom 7-10cm in size, f-rom the first to the sixth lunar month while raising local awareness on efficient crab protection.

The VND2 billion (nearly US$100,000) project will receive financial assistance f-rom the Global Environment Fund and the Hoi An city budget.


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