By BOBBY Q LABALAN
SORSOGON CITY: Alarmed by the indiscriminate harvesting of blue swimming crabs (BSC), the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently imposed a nationwide selective ban on catching and selling of this pelagic crustacean.
Joint DA-DILG Administrative Order No. 1-2014 sets a specific size of crabs that are allowed to be harvested or caught and at the same time imposes a closed season during which a total ban shall be in effect.
The joint order issued by DA Secretary Proceso Alcala and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas sets the allowed size of crabs at a minimum of 10.2 centimeters, or about 4 inches, carapace.
It also prohibits the catching of berried or egg-bearing crabs.
As defined in the joint order, “blue swimming crab refer to what is locally known as ‘kasag’ which has rough and broadly flattened carapace and has single pair of chelae with three long ridged legs and a pair of modified legs as swimming paddles.
Generally, the color of the female is mottled green brown and the male is mottled blue.”
Upon the effectivity of the administrative order all crab fishers shall register with their respective local government units for masterlisting which shall also include information about the number of units per gear that they own, the length and size of the nets.
Only single layer crab entangling nets with a minimum mesh size of 11 centimeters and crab litfnets with 3 centimeters stretch mesh are allowed together with crab pots or traps with minimum 5 centimeter hole diameter.
Berried crabs may be retained by the fishers provided they are placed in holding cages wherein they would be able to breed.
The order also directs crab buyers, traders, and processors to first secure an auxiliary invoice and local transport permit (LTP) before they could legally transport or ship crabs from buying stations and meat-picking plants to processing plants.
A fine of P2,000 to P20,000 or imprisonment of six months to two years will be imposed against those who will violate the minimum size of the crab as well the sizes of the nets and traps.
Boat captains and vessel owners are also subject to such penalties, plus possible cancellation of their permits and licenses, the directive added.
Violators of closed season or closed area provision face heavier penalties of 6 months to 6 years imprisonment and/or a fine of P6,000 plus cancellation of the permit or license while violation on berried crabs carries a penalty of 6 months to 8 years imprisonment and a fine of P80,000, forfeiture of catch and fishing equipment used and revocation of license.
Traders who will fail to secure auxiliary invoice and LTP will face a penalty of P200 to P1,000 fine plus imprisonment of 5 to ten days, the directive further stated.
The move was in accordance with the provisions of the Philippine Fisheries Code, Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and the Blue Swimming Crab Management Plan, the order added. – Bicol Mail