MINISTRY AIMS TO INCREASE MUD CRAB AND GIANT CLAM POPULATION

The Ministry of Fisheries with relevant stakeholders and Authorities aims to improve the crab and clam population by not only putting together a strategy to monitor and grow the species but also have a system in place for fishers that they can have the maximum return of investment when it comes to harvesting crabs and clams.

In order to come up with a comprehensive strategy, the Ministry started the Mud Crab and Giant Clam Management Strategies Workshop in Suva today.

Permanent Sectary for Fisheries, Mr Craig Strong says the Ministry aims to take those selling mud crabs and Giant Clams that do meet the ministry’s size requirements to task. Through the workshop, the ministry hopes to discuss this proposed management plans and strategies.

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The Workshop that was attended by the regional counterparts from SPC, our national partners Wildlife Conservative Society (WSC), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Mamanuca Environment Society (MES) and representatives from other Government Ministries/Departments and communities.

Mr Strong highlighted that Giant clam species are listed under the Convention on the International Trade on Endangered Species of flora and fauna (CITES), and are clearly threatened with extinction within their geographical range on an international scale whereas Mud-crabs are also easily overfished, and thus the need for drafting these very important policy guiding documents.

“The Ministry of Fisheries has always been very proactive in terms of conserving and managing our fisheries, and associated marine resources – by placing conservation and management measures in place on a timely manner.

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I may also add that the Ministry is very appreciative and acknowledges the very large and enduring input from all the different stakeholders, in terms of managing our fisheries and marine resources. Be assured that the Ministry sees great value in convening this very important consultation forum- for all our stakeholders.” said the PS.

The PS for Fisheries also said the mud crabs are a high-value fishery on the domestic market in Fiji, popular amongst local consumers and the tourism industry and that the harvesting of undersized crabs is an ongoing concern.

“On the other hand the giant clams hadn’t favored as well as the mud crabs, this species faced local extinction as well, namely for the Gigas giant clam, Tridacna gigas (Vasua matau), and the Horse-hoof (Hippopus hippopus) giant clam species,” empathized Mr Strong.

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The two day workshop aims a series of consultations that will get stakeholder inputs into the strategies, to make sure Fiji has the right approach that will work and will ensure the long-term sustainability of these two fisheries – mud crabs, and giant clams.

Mr Strong concluded with ‘We ask you to speak openly and freely, sharing your knowledge and ideas with the Ministry so that we can make the right decisions to safeguard these important fisheries resources’