Here is a piece of good news for mud crab lovers. The State Government is mooting a proposal to promote mud crab farming which would not only contribute to a considerable component of coastal fisheries but also garner source of income for small scale fishermen.
Once available abundantly, the population of delicious mud crabs is dwindled over the years as no step was initiated to conserve the species. The crabs are mostly found in the coastal areas of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Puri and Ganjam districts.
“We have planned to diversify the Brackish water sector and promote two varieties of crabs - Scylla serrata and Scylla tranquebarica - as this year we have been successful in Brackish water aqua culture,” said an official of the Directorate of Fisheries.
The crabs are known for their high flesh content and rapid growth rate in captivity. A full grown crab weighs around 500 gm in six months by stocking crab lets of 50 gm size reared from instars. The live mud crabs are high in demand in the market and if the culture is promoted properly as a targeted fishery, it would fetch high price.
One of the crab species has already been cultured in a demonstration pond at Sunapur village in Ganjam district by the Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA). The crabs of Scylla serrata species grew upto 500 gms in 174 days. Depending on the size, the crabs are priced between `500 and `1,200 per kg. As per an estimate, around 15 quintals of crabs can be harvested from a pond of one hectare. Though the crabs are free from diseases, their survival rate is 50 per cent.
“Lack of sufficient crab-lets was a major roadblock for the culture. But now farmers can have hatcheries for crab-lets as the crab culture technology is available with Central Institute of Brackish water Aquaculture (CIBA) and Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI). Besides, the certified crab-lets are also available with Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Aquaculture (RGCA),” the official added.
Farmers can obtain bank finance for the crab culture and avail 40 per cent subsidy from National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB). Besides, the small backyard ponds which can be converted into crab ponds, abandoned shrimp ponds can also be utilised and cage and pen culture can be taken up.