Following the success of the Crab Council industry-led sustainability model, a group of U.S. importers, the NFI Red Crab Council, has partnered with key in-country stakeholders to launch a Fishery Improvement Project for red swimming crab.
The FIP–led by the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) Red Crab Council, China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), Zhangzhou Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Association (ZAPPMA), and Ocean Outcomes (O2)– is the first project of its kind in China and will work to address the sustainability challenges of the region’s red swimming crab (RSC) fisheries, whose 1,000 plus trawl and pot vessels catch approximately 40,000 metric tons of red swimming crab annually.
“Crab from these fisheries are imported by our member companies and sold across the globe,” said NFI President, John Connelly, “so precompetitive sustainability projects, such as this FIP, are a way to ensure our Chinese partners, NFI members, and consumers have continued access to healthy red swimming crab resources.”
As China produces 35% of the world’s seafood (wild and farmed combined) and is home to 25% of the world’s commercial fishing capacity, China’s first crab improvement project, and the largest improvement project by volume in China, is a positive step towards more sustainable fishing practices globally.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to leverage government support, international and local expertise, fishery and community engagement efforts, and conservation investments to test innovative improvement models to scale up the sustainability of Chinese fisheries and seafood industry, starting with our RSC fishery,” said CAPPMA President Dr. He Cui.
The FIP will be guided by a five year improvement work plan designed, in part, to establish bycatch monitoring protocols, and to move the fishery towards a science-based catch management strategy, such as utilizing a minimum harvestable crab size and protecting egg-bearing females.
“The crabs and sea have generously provided us with food and jobs, but we haven’t done enough to protect them,” added ZAPPMA President Mr. Zhenkui Chen, who witnessed the decline of the RSC fishing and seafood processing sectors, first as a fisherman and then as an entrepreneur. He is now calling on his fellow fishermen and seafood processors to “spare no effort to support the FIP for ourselves and our future generations.”