Bangladesh advances in mud crab hatchery technology. Mud crab fattening in the southwest of Bangladesh supports the livelihood of more than 50,000 fishermen, traders, brokers, transporters, and exporters. Recently, the sector has seen a sharp rise due to relatively high prices, increasing demand on the international market, and less disease-related losses compared to shrimp farming.
Young crabs (crablets) needed as a basis for mud crab farming are mainly collected from the wild (estuaries and mangroves of the Sundarbans). The increasing demand is raising serious concerns about potentially adverse impacts to ecosystems and biodiversity of the Sundarbans. Besides, a crash in the wild population from overharvesting would also lead to a situation, where the existing industry can no longer be sustained, which in turn would threaten the livelihood of the people depending on it.
A way to reduce pressure on wild stocks and increase the availability of crablets for commercial purposes is to promote its hatchery-based production.
That is why the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Bangladesh Forest Department (BFD). together with the Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (BFRI), have continuously supported the advancement of mud crab hatchery technologies in Bangladesh since 2014.
The collaboration is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and jointly implemented by BFD, GIZ and BFRI, with technical assistance from the South East Asian Fisheries Development Centre (SEAFDEC), Philippines. During the first phase, the whole life cycle of mud crabs under hatchery conditions was successfully completed.
The resulting production of 67 viable crablets in 2015 is a unique achievement that had never been achieved in this form in Bangladesh before. Building on these experiences, the Management of the Sundarbans Mangrove Forests for Biodiversity Conservation and Increased Adaptation to Climate Change Project (SMP) provided further support to BFRI to carry out hatchery operations achieving a higher survival rate of crablets.
In order to exchange these experiences, identify future challenges and as well as lessons learnt with other relevant actors in the sector, SMP organised a Knowledge Sharing Workshop on Mud Crab Hatcheries in Bangladesh on 7 November 2016 in Khulna. In an interactive environment, participants from the government, private sector, the academe and non-governmental organisations reflected on technical advances and elaborated essential milestones on the way forward towards economically feasible mud crab hatcheries in Bangladesh.
Dr. Emilia Quinitio, expert for SEAFDEC, was also present at the workshop and shared her experience from accompanying all trials at BFRI. One of her recommendations for the future advancement of hatchery-based mud crab production in Bangladesh was to build synergies among different actors in the sector.
During the workshop, Mr. Zahir Uddin Ahmed, Conservator of Forests, Khulna Circle, said: “With the support of SMP, I can see that BFRI has positioned itself as a center of expertise for mud crab hatchery technology in Bangladesh.
Carrying on these trials will imply a continuous learning process that the institution is ready to undertake. With joint efforts, challenges such as the achievement of a commercial survival rate can be overcome over time. I am confident that further advancing in this matter will eventually enhance conservation of the natural resources of the Sundarbans and improve livelihood of our people in coastal areas.”