Overview of the Mud (Mangrove) Crab industry in the Philippines (Q3-2019) | Industry Report
Apart from Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Philippines remains one of the top exporters for mud crabs in the Southeast Asian region. In 2018, it is estimated that over 18,100 tonnes of mud crabs have been exported from the Philippines to the global market all over the world. These big importers of the crabs include but not limited to China, Hong Kong and Singapore. The prices of mud crabs have been increasing over the years, enticing many farmers to convert their shrimp ponds into mud crab aquaculture. In this blog post, we will be discussing the current status of the mud crab aquaculture in the Philippines and uncover some challenges within the industry.
In the Philippines, most farmers practice polyculture, where the mud crabs are cultured together with milkfish (Bangus) or tiger prawns. The seedlings of various sizes (langaw-langaw or ‘fly’ size to Matchbox size) are stocked into the mud ponds for 4-5 months. The crabs are usually stocked in low densities of 1000-2000 crabs/hectare to avoid cannibalism. Instead of mud ponds, some operators prefer to culture the crabs in mangrove pens. These mangrove pens are made of bamboo or mesh green netting to prevent the crabs from escaping from the pens. The popular region for mud crab aquaculture includes Panay, Masbate, Leyte, Mindanao, etc.
Mud crabs are very high in demand especially during the festive seasons starting from December to February, and prices could have risen to 1300 pesos/kg. This creates huge incentives for businesses to attempt to start culturing mud crabs during July- August, with hopes to catch the high pricing for the production. This will then create a huge demand for the seedlings among the farmers to stock their ponds. The seedlings that are commonly used at the moment for grow-out are harvested directly from the wild using scoop or scissors nets. However, the demand for getting the seedlings is challenged by the low availability of wild seedlings from June to October due to the monsoon season. These factors result in an increase in the price of from 7-8 pesos up to 14 pesos for the fly size (langaw-langaw) seedling. The production of seedlings in the hatcheries should be improved and commercialized to prevent an over-exploitation of the mud crabs in the wild, as their young are no longer allowed to mature and repopulate.
The mud crab species commonly found in the Philippines are the Scylla serrata, Scylla olivacea, and Scylla transquebarica. Studies have already shown that the Scylla serrata or locally known as Bulik is the faster-growing breed, and they are the only species that can grow bigger than 1 kg. Ideally, all pond operators would only like to stock their ponds with Scylla serrata for optimal profitability. However, it is very diffi