In a Regular NFARMC meeting held on 11 July 2013 at Fersal Hotel in Quezon City and presided by Assistant Agriculture Secretary Salvador Salacup, the NFARMC has favorably endorsed the approval and publication of the Joint Administrative Order for Regulation for the Conservation of Blue Swimming Crab in the Philippines. It was the second of the eight agenda of the meeting.
Dr. Jonathan Dickson, Chief of the Capture Fisheries Division of BFAR presented the draft administrative order. While discussing this agenda, the following were raised by NFARMC Members:
- The need to conduct consultations involving the Town Mayor of each coastal municipalities where Blue Swimming Crab is a significant municipal fishery product.
- Define the specific functions of each industry stakeholder.
- Define the manner of addressing non-compliant LGUs.
- Define the basis for seasonal fishing closures.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez who was also in the meeting has explained that several public consultations had already been conducted in the province. Referring to the numerous and time-consuming LGU consultations, he stressed that the country needs to act now and let go of these procedure or the blue swimming crabs would have long been gone by the time the administrative order is released. He further stressed that some of the concerns raised were mostly procedural and can be addressed as it comes; And what is important at the present is to keep the momentum despite the anticipated implementation problems. He also indicated that seasonal closures are not to be implemented in the absence of scientific data from BFAR.
The administrative order specifies a minimum catch size limit of 10.2 centimeters in carapace width and the need to establish holding cages for accidentally-caught egg-bearing females. It also includes provisions on crab fishing gear sizes and fishing closures.
PACPI and NFICC representatives were also present in the meeting to show their support for the approval of the Administrative Order.
This is yet another milestone for the Blue Swimming Crab industry in the Philippines.