December 14, 2016 – The University of the Philippines Visayas called on several stakeholders to discuss the results of the Value Chain Analysis of Philippine Blue Swimming Crab and identify possible interventions to improve the current state of the fishery and its growing industry.

Stakeholders from the academe, government and industry, including PACPI, participated the activity held last Dec. 7, 2016 at Smallville21 hotel in Iloilo City. The results were obtained from a 3-year project, lead by Prof. Encarnacion Emilia Yap, which was initially-funded by CHED but was eventually completed through financial support of UP Visayas. The implementing team covered all critical production areas of blue swimming crab such as Iloilo, Negros, Cebu, Palawan, Bataan, and Bicol region, among others.

Activities of the three-year project include field visits, interview with fisherfolk groups and local governments and several focus group discussions (FGDs) with fishers, traders, and processors who serve as the main respondents for the survey. Initial results reported a declining average daily catch among fishers, use of crab nets and pots of massive length and volume, respectively, as well as socio-economic issues confronting the fishermen. Among them are limited access to micro financing and heavy indebtedness to traders and buyers, leaving fishermen with no choice to pick better markets.

Moreover, the group has also looked into movements of the supply chain such as flow of goods, fluctuation of prices, and profit margins of actors. It was found out the movements differ from one place to another, creating what looks like more of a supply ‘web’ than a ‘chain’, and is largely market-driven. Hence, a further recommendation included institutional analysis and market study to assess how each market player affects pricing and movement of commodities and goods.

Varied handling, transport, and cooking practices of crabs in processing stations were also a common observation. At present, there are no standardized protocols in cooking and transport of crab meat. While Philippine National Standard exists for crab meat (see DA-BAFS website), it remains suggestive and adoption is limited.

The project also evaluated awareness and compliance of producers, traders, and mini plants to existing laws and regulations. Level of awareness across the supply chain is high in many Visayan regions such as Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas, while Bicol and MIMAROPA reported limited knowledge on the Joint Administrative Order on the Regulation for the Conservation of Blue Swimming Crab, and enforcement remains weak.