Posted by: Jimely Flores | November 20, 2013

Risks of indiscriminate stock enhancement to biodiversity and ecosystem

Indiscriminate is defined by Webster as not marked by careful distinction; haphazard, random (www.merriam-webster.com). Stock enhancement is defined as the release of hatchery-reared juveniles into wild population to augment the natural supply of juveniles to optimize harvests by overcoming recruitment limitations (www.stockenhancement.org).

The Philippines’ Blue swimming crab resources locally called Dariway, Alimasag, Kasag (Portunus pelagicus) are cosmopolitan in distribution and considered a highly valued fisheries resource. It is caught mostly by entangling nets and bamboo pots. Because of its high market value and lack of efficient management scheme, the resources is experiencing problems of overexploitation resulting to the continuing decrease of catches per unit effort.

One ingenuous management scheme started by Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) is called the Fisheries Improvemt Project (FIP). This involves the active participation of the supply chain in the management of fisheries they are gaining from. The government and NGOs roles are just support and advise, the supply chain implements the work. The crabmeat industry in the US recognized their power and practicality of this set-up, and so, chose this to promote sustainability of their crab businesses. They gave money to the Philippines Association of Crab Proceesors, Incorporated to implement a Fisheries Improvement Project in the Philippines. One of the identified project by the industry implementer is stock enhancement or the release of hatchery-reared crabs into the wild to supplement the existing resources. This is not new and a lot had tried this one. The danger is, in the Philippines, blue swimming crabs are released into the wild INDISCRIMINATELY. There are no ecosystem and biodiversity safety protocols developed before any releases, no baseline data collected and no monitoring plans whatsoever that is established. This despite the respectful advises of the SFP staff. Thus, the watching is now left to the people who cared about biodiversity and ecosystem conservation.

Stock enhancement have unknown risks in the integrity of the ecosystem and biodiversity. Risks on introducing diseases is very high. Population and genetic tampering is also present. These risks are exponentially intensified by indiscriminate activities.

The market, supply chain, present stakeholders and representatives of the future generations should stand, join efforts and together let us watch over the use of the blue swimming crab resources. We should advocate Responsible Stock Enhancement and demand the end of Indiscriminate Stock Enhancement!

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