HCM CITY (VNS) — A blue swimming crab bank set up in Phu Quoc has helped fishermen improve their incomes while also conserving the species, a speciality of the island.
Because of huge demand for the crabs, fishermen have been catching more and more of them, causing a decline in their population.
To protect them, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Kien Giang Province – home to Phu Quoc — set up the bank in 2011.
The bank, sponsored by the Wetlands Alliance Programme and having an initial capital of VND30 million (US$1,400), provides loans worth VND3 million to people who catch, breed, or sell the crabs, and as interest they have to “pay” five egg-carrying blue swimming crabs every month from their catch.
The bank has also set up a floating craft with four cages to breed egg-carrying blue swimming crabs. After the eggs hatch, the babies are released into the sea and the mother crabs are sold.
Money from the sales is used to maintain the craft, buy food for the crabs in the cages, and provide the loans.
Nguyen Ngoc Huong of Bai Bon hamlet on the island said the loan helped her buy nets and other tools to catch crabs.
“The payment in the form of crabs was easy for me compared to normal payment,” she said.
Fishermen who borrowed have increased their incomes and pay interest in time, bank statistics reveal.
Bui Ngoc Huan, head of the Bai Bon Hamlet Fisheries Resources Protection Team, which manages the craft, said the bank hopes to improve fishermen’s awareness of the need to protect blue swimming crabs.
But the bank’s capital is small and it is difficult to increase lending, he said.
Bai Bon has a population of 1,600 and 70 per cent of them earn a living from fishing. Around 60 per cent of the fishermen catch blue swimming crabs.
The department has called on companies exporting the crab variety to invest in the bank so that more people can get loans.
Companies investing in the bank will benefit from having a sustainable source of crabs.