Hello to whoever runs across this post. I’m on a blog marathon because the next three weeks is checking marathon. Earlier at facebook, I posted that picture of three crabs with a caption– name those crabs.
One of my stressed-out (who isn’t these days?) students identified them as his three classmates. So did my cousin–her three kiddos. In general, they are called Kasag but they have specific names. My friend Tita Natie, my only loyal reader at ilove identified one — the Kurusan/Krusan or the Christian crab (Charybdis feriata). I’m sure you know by now, which of the three it is.
The other two in fishy lingo, are Visayan Sea BSC or blue swimming crabs (Portunus pelagicus). I was amused by that term ‘blue swimming crab.’ I first saw that on a signage, somewhere in Tigbauan, I think. Are there crabs that don’t swim? Of course, that’s a foolish question to ask a fish expert. I’m sure there must be a scientific reason for that. Dr. Ingles of the UPV College of Fisheries, I must seek.
Back to the discovery. The two are BSCs– one is female and the other male. To the uncritical eater, well, when cooked, they look the same, all orange anyway. But when fresh, it’s easy to distinguish one from the other. What we commonly call as the blue crab because of the blue violet shades on its body is the male. The dull green/mossy green crab is the female.
In the animal kingdom, it’s often the male that is attractive, no? Think of the peacock. The lion.
In Ilonggo, the common term for the male BSC is langwayan while the femme BSC is the burukan(?). Let me confirm that this week.
The country’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources came up with a report regarding the state of these BSCs and a proposed plan to manage the problem. In a nutshell…
The Visayan Sea is haven to the crabs. Nowhere in the Philippines is such a concentration of these creatures. And note! The waters of Negros, Guimaras, Northern Iloilo and Capiz combined, produces the biggest percentage of crab harvest annually. Region 8 (eastern Visayas) and region V (Bicol) rank second and third respectively.
The sad news, however, is that the crab population has gone on an alarming decline since 2009. This is caused by overfishing using the harmful entangling nets and pots as well as destruction of crab habitats.
Entangling nets haul in not just the mature crabs but berried mature crabs (these are the crabs that carry an orangey, or sometimes grayish spongelike sac on its underside. That’s where the eggs are), juveniles and gravids (those that are about to spawn). Of course you know the dire consequence.
I’ve always loved crabs. I don’t mean to brag but my specialty dish is ” Chili Crabs ni Toto Olie” named after my youngest kiddo, who likes crabs as much as I do.
Knowing from that BFAR report that our crab population has been decreasing, I’ll never look at crabs in the same way again. I wish no preggy crab ends up in the market. I just realized that the Kurusan in the picture was berried! So sorry. Those were cooked crabs that I bought this morning from an ambulant seller for 250/kilo. He said these were from Guimaras.
The municipalities have been tasked with regulating the crab catch so that no juvenile, gravid and esp. berried crab ends up in the market. Apparently, no strict regulation is being enforced. If fisherfolk can be made to understand that one pregnant crab returned to the sea means a hundred more crabs to catch in less than a year, perhaps, this decline can be corrected.
Ah, yes. There’s another angle to look at. Did you know that the crab meat from our Visayan blue crabs end up in the supermarkets and restos in the US and Asia? No less than 20 crabmeat picking plants operate in the islands around the Visayan sea. Two in Negros, being HACCP accredited, are major suppliers to the States. There are several plants too somewhere in Northern Iloilo.
BFAR also says in that report that the minimum size for crabs to legal is four inches length of the carapace or shell from tip to tip. Oh boy, we see plenty of these Visayan crabs at much less than four inches.
Regulation is the key.