China’s Fujian Province is the leading fishing region in China for a ‘red swimming crab species group’ (RSC) comprised of red swimming crab (Portunus haanii) and three-spot (or red-spot) swimming crab (Portunus sanguinolentus). On an annual basis approximately 40,000 metric tons of RSC is caught here, most of which is processed in Zhangzhou. RSC is not only commercially important in China, but also supplies an important export market of crabmeat, much of which is imported by the United States in the form of canned crab. The Fujian Zhangzhou Red Swimming Crab FIP, comprised of over 1,000 bottom trawl and pot vessels, takes place on the Minnan-Taiwan Bank fishing grounds and is subject to a summer fishery closure common to all Chinese coastal areas. This closure attempts to protect fish stocks during the summer season, which is the general spawning and growth period for most economically important species. For the RSC fishery, the current lack of several key approaches—i.e., science based stock assessments, the implementation of a minimum harvestable size limit, and maximum sustainable yield (MSY) fishery management strategies—represents a serious risk to the fishery as little is known about the actual stock status of target species. Since 2012, many processors have found that large crabs reaching processable size, those with a carapace width of 8 cm or greater, have been decreasing in numbers. It’s estimated undersized crabs might account for as high as 80% of harvest.
What We're Doing:
- Working with government managers and other fishery stakeholders to fully launch a comprehensive FIP that will develop and test new science based catch management strategies, potentially as part of one of selected five Chinese national management system reform pilots.
- Convening project stakeholders, including the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), local research Institute, and local processors and producers through stakeholder workshops to review previously completed fishery assessments, discuss how to better monitor fishery bycatch, and transition to a science based maximum sustainable yield (MSY) management approach.
- Developing an initial 5-year fishery improvement work plan by reviewing a gap analysis with local Chinese fishery scientists and fishery observers, based on the previously completed MSC pre-assessment, which will transition the fishery to more sustainable management.
Fishery Improvement Project Information:
|FIP Status:||Prospective FIP (tracked fully on FisheryProgress.org)|
|Location:||Minnan-Taiwan Bank, located in the southern part of Taiwan Strait at the boundary between the East and South China Seas|
|Participants:||Ocean Outcomes, National Fisheries Institute (NFI), China Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (CAPPMA), and Zhangzhou Aquatic Products Processing and Marketing Alliance (ZAPPMA). Participation from other key stakeholders under negotiation.|
|Species:||Red swimming crab (Portunus haanii) and three-spot swimming crab (Portunus sanguinolentus)|
|Gear Type:||Bottom trawl and pot|
|Volume:||~40,000 mt - The Zhangzhou Fisheries Statistics Yearbook indicates the annual crab harvest in Zhangzhou from 2009 to 2014 varies from about 55,000 to 60,000 metric tons and an estimated 60-65% of these are in the ‘red swimming crab group’, putting the approximate RSC harvest at 30,000-40,000 mt.|