Last February 22, 2016, the USAID-ECOFISH presented the results of the value chain analysis of blue crabs in Danajon Bank in Bohol to provide information on the current economic position of the fishery in the area.

A commercially-important fishery commodity, the blue swimming crab is a major source of livelihood in Bohol province. Danajon crabs, alongside stocks of Visayan Sea and Guitars Strait, represent one of the two units of stocks in the Philippines (Romero, 2009).

A value chain is a complex range of activities businesses go through to bring a product or service from its origin to the marketplace.This includes production, processing, marketing and distribution. Similarly, according to the report, “value chain looks at the complex range of activities implemented by various actors (primary producers, processors, traders, service providers, etc.) to bring a raw material to the retail of the final product.” Studying the supply chain provides critical information on why certain issues exist (i.e. declining catch, low profit margins, reduced product quality). It identifies options to effectively manage resources.

The study was conducted to determine the following:

  1. Actors and processes involved
  2. Supply and demand
  3. Volume, prices, costs, and margins from production/harvesting to consumption
  4. Actors that gain the most
  5. Challenges currently faced by the industry

The study was conducted November 2014 to April 2015 that covers four municipalities identified as major landing sites.

Crab catchers harvest an average of 3 kg a day. These harvested crabs are sold to traders and wet market vendors at an average price of PhP 132/kg. An average margin of PhP 44/kg per day was reported. Most crabbers sell their catch to traders because of an established suki relationship motivated by credit provisions. Traders deliver the crabs to processors/pickers and market vendors at PhP 130/kg and PhP 167/kg, respectively. They earn about Php 94/kg. Some market vendors obtain crabs directly from crab fishers. These actors get an average Php 74/kg margin per day. Picking stations are not independent actors since they function as part of the business operations of crab meat exporters. They buy fresh, live crabs from crabbers and traders at an average price of PhP 130/kg. The average total cost of meat processing is PhP 3 Million per year. The biggest market for export is U.S, with smaller markets in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. Total volume of export amounts to approximately 30,000 pounds per month. Due to huge production volume, Indonesia is the biggest competitor and sets the market price $8-$12 per pound.

The results showed that among the actors identified in the study, traders gain the biggest margins at PhP 94/kg while the fishers earn the least at PhP 44/kg. One problem seen is the constant decline of catch relative to the previous years, which can also be explained with the rise of competition among crabbers and processors. More individuals engage in crab fishing as the demand in the export market continue to grow. This causes increasing pressure in the wild stocks.

The study proponents strongly recommend strict implementation of the Joint Administrative Order no. 1 s. 2014 on the Regulation for the Conservation of Blue Swimming Crabs (Portunus pelagicus) to impose proper harvesting techniques among crab fishers. Information, Education, Communication campaigns must be facilitated to promote awareness on stock status, proper harvesting techniques, and ensure compliance to minimum landing size requirements. To encourage fair competition among actors, institutional intervention is necessary to control conditional trading through pro-poor micro-credit facilities to blue swimming crab catchers.