Almost all blue swimming crab fisheries in Asia are facing similar challenges, including: a lack of nationwide stock assessments; inadequate management, enforcement, and monitoring; and insufficient precaution in protecting the stocks. Of particular concern are the landing, harvest, and sales of juvenile crabs and berried females (female crabs bearing eggs) and the declining trend in crab size and catch per unit effort.  In addition, there are some significant impacts on bycatch and retained species, especially in bottom trawl and gillnet fisheries. 

SFP’s general approach is to convene suppliers and buyers into a roundtable and then provide support and guidance in generating activities that promote sustainable management of the fisheries. In this case, the NFI Crab Council serves the function of a supplier roundtable for the swimming crab fisheries in Southeast Asia.

SFP provides assistance to the NFI Crab Council where necessary including: 

  • Providing guidance on the approaches the members can take to addressing any problems in FIPs (e.g., discussing conditions required to rebuild the stocks, monitoring compliance with minimum landing size requirements, etc.).
     
  • Monitoring the sustainability status of swimming crab stocks and conducting independent evaluations of FIP progress.  SFP will put those together in regular reports (semi-annual).
     
  • Providing technical assistance to stalled FIPs where local experts cannot help, (for instance, the creation and promotion of control documents).
     
  • Providing training in best practices in implementing FIPs.

SFP also provides links in FishSource to relevant, third-party-operated fishery improvement projects and associated public reports in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. 

The Southeast Asian Blue Swimming Crab T75 fisheries can be reviewed here.

Fisheries and/or FIPs Covered:

At present, the roundtable focuses on a number of swimming crab fisheries in Asia. The following FIPs are supported and monitored:

Indonesian blue swimming crab - gillnet/trap FIP

Philippines blue swimming crab FIP

Philippines blue swimming crab - pot (Saravia Blue Crab)

Sri Lankan blue swimming crab FIP

Thailand blue swimming crab – bottom gillnet/trap FIP

Vietnam blue swimming crab – bottom gillnet/trap FIP

China Fujian Zhangzhou red swimming crab - bottom trawl & pot/trap 

Prospective FIPs: 

India blue swimming crab FIP (in preparation)

Almost all blue swimming crab fisheries in Asia are facing similar challenges, including: a lack of nationwide stock assessments; inadequate management, enforcement, and monitoring; and insufficient precaution in protecting the stocks. Of particular concern are the landing, harvest, and sale of juvenile crabs and berried females (female crabs bearing eggs), and the declining trend in crab size and catch per unit effort. In addition, there are some significant impacts on bycatch and retained species, especially in bottom trawl and gillnet fisheries. 

The NFI Crab Council serves as the SR and convenes the market-based suppliers to provide support and guidance in generating activities that improve their source fisheries.

SFP provides assistance to the NFI Crab Council where necessary, including providing guidance on the approaches the members can take to address any problems in FIPs (e.g., discussing conditions required to rebuild the stocks, monitoring compliance with minimum landing size requirements, etc.).

Specifically, SFP assists in the development and implementation of Control Documents in the Indonesian supply chain to NFI CC members. Control Documents are meant to assure traceability and legality of the crab products. SFP continues to work with APRI (Asosiasi Pengelolaan Rajungan Indonesia) and the government on incorporating the Control Document traceability data into the health certificate for export process.

SFP also provides links to relevant, third-party-operated fishery improvement projects and associated public reports in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

A list of NFI Crab Council members can be found on their website.

For detailed information on FIPs and activities related to Southeast Asian blue swimming crab, see the following resources:

NFI Crab Council

Fishery Progress

SFP works closely with the NFI Crab Council and the Indonesia Blue Swimming Crab Association (APRI) to assist with FIP activities through technical advice and support. Read more about recent activities to support the work of the NFI Crab Council and APRI.

  • Control document and audit system: Read SFP’s recent blog post about progress toward implementation of this system for Indonesian blue swimming crab:

It’s been nearly a year now since organizers of a national-level fishery improvement project (FIP) for blue swimming crab (BSC) in Indonesia took the critical step of instituting a control document. Now comes the real test: Will the supply chain participants comply with the conditions set in the document? While the auditing process is still in the early phase, initial results are promising, leaving us at SFP feeling very optimistic for the future use of this supply chain accountability tool.

Over the past four years, members of the BSC supply chain in Indonesia have been developing a process to ensure that BSC products from Indonesia have been legally harvested, and that this is verifiable through a third-party audit system. The process uses a supply chain tool, the control document, coupled with an audit system. The overall goal is to improve the quality of exported crab product from Indonesia while also supporting more sustainable harvest strategies aimed at improving BSC stocks and their habitats.

This strategy has been successfully used in other fisheries, such as the Gulf of California industrial shrimp fishery, to ensure legal fishing practices, and was championed there by both suppliers and buyers. Industry champions within the Indonesian BSC supply chain have also emerged for the control document effort. They, in turn, get support from the collaboration between the US National Fisheries Institute (NFI) Crab Council, made up of importers of BSC products, and the Indonesia Blue Swimming Crab Processors Association (APRI), made up of processors and exporters of BSC products.

  • A letter of warranty, which is a legal agreement stating that all products and materials supplied to any buyer are legally caught and conform to all applicable national and international laws
  • A list of the regulations in order to comply with the rules that apply to Indonesian crab fisheries (in this case, a minimum size limit of 10 cm and no harvest of egg-berried females)
  • Audit procedures and auditor guidance
  • The terms for penalties.

For Indonesian BSC, the control document process works like this: First, fishers land their catch with collectors (and their cooking stations). Then, the collectors and enumerators record the catch data on a control document landing report. The cooked crab and landing report are taken to the mini-plant (picking/peeling plant, where the meat is extracted) and this is then also recorded on the control document form. Finally, crab meat product and the control document data are transferred to the processing plant for pasteurization and packaging.

APRI has developed a mobile application, APRI Apps, to allow the supply chain to enter all of the landing, cooking, and peeling data. If everyone follows the control document process successfully, BSC products and their associated data can then be traced all the way back to the collectors and the fishing vessels that supplied them. This allows for evaluation of the level of compliance with fishery laws from the time the product is landed to the final export of the product.  

The implementation of the control document was pilot tested in key BSC fishing areas in Central Java, East Java (Madura), and East Lampung. This effort required extensive outreach and training to collectors, mini-plants, and processing facilities, in order to better understand the barriers to and opportunities for success before rolling out the program across Indonesia.

In June 2018, the NFI Crab Council launched the full implementation of the control document system with an official start date of July 1, 2018. Now, independent auditors are visiting mini-plants throughout Indonesia to evaluate compliance with the document. Through a mapping project, APRI estimated there are 445 mini-plants throughout the country and is now aiming for 300 mini-plant audits for 2019 (and occasional checks of some of the collectors supplying those plants).

The initial results are very promising. To date, 35 mini-plants have been audited, and were found to have an overall compliance rate of 98 percent. More specifically, the audit has shown low levels of non-compliance for the minimum landing size regulation (5.7 percent) and the prohibitions on catching egg-berried females (8.5 percent), indicating that the regulations in place are being followed well.  

There are more parts and pieces to the Indonesian BSC story, including the data collection efforts and community-based co-management activities that are also underway. Stay tuned later this year for more on these activities and updates on the progress of the continued implementation of the control document and audit process for Indonesian BSC.

To learn more about the evolution of the control document process, read this from SFP. 

To learn more about the control document and first round of audits, read the APRI report

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