Papua New Guinea
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Give mud crab licences to PNG community groups

Mud crabs are exotic seafood and can rake in millions of dollars for Papua New Guinean crabbers.

They are a serious delicacy on the international gourmet market and there is a huge appetite for our crabs from Asian restaurants.

In PNG, mud crabs are abundant in Western, Gulf, Central and New Ireland. Some of these crabs have huge pincers that can snip a finger or two off.

But it’s the meat in the pincer that diners at international cuisines ravenously salivate on.

PNG is one of the few places on earth blessed with an abundance of seafood including mud crabs.

So it surprises us that there are only 12 crab export licenses that the National Fisheries Authority has issued. Twelve licenses.

How many of these companies are 100 percent PNG owned and operated and how many are foreign enterprises?

If one huge giant mud crab costs US$100 dollars in Hong Kong, then how much of that reaches the local crabber in Baimuru or Kupiano?

The Department of Agriculture, Marine Resources and the NFA must seriously consider the resource owners who are the frontline suppliers of crabs.

We certainly do not want our resource owners to be shortchanged by greedy exporters.

For so long our marine resources have been over harvested with impunity. Berchdermer or

sea cucumber (slugs) is one such exotic sea resource. Despite NFA notices for closure of sea slug seasons, unscrupulous Asian businessmen, still engage in illegal sea cucumber harvesting.

We do not want to see this happening in the crabbing industry. We do not want to see Asians take over our crab resources.

The government must have in place laws that encourage PNG participation in crab exporting. Communal and village based businesses must be given licences to export their crabs and fish direct instead of going through middleman.

We own the rivers where the crabs live. We own the swamps where the crabs spawn. Our resource is for ourselves and our children.

If commercialised, just like any investment activity, the river owners need to have 100 percent input in buying and selling of their crabs.

NFA and its CEO must be aware that crabs and crabbing is big business in Australia. Our fisheries is overfished and in most cases stolen from under our noses.

The people do not want to see this happen with live crabs. They do not want to miss out on the opportunity of exporting crabs.

Prime Minister James Marape’s vision to take back PNG should start with our renewable fisheries and marine resources.

We suggest that the next lot of export licences be reserved for nationals only and the NFA, in conjunction with provincial governments, upgrade the capacity of community based crabbers (CBCs) to conduct crabbing.

It’s not like you need a fishing boat out in the open sea to catch mud crabs.

There are hundreds of muddy rivers in PNG where mud crabs thrive.

They are easy to catch in the wild. Growing them and fattening them in NFA approved facilities is the key to rural communities benefitting from their marine resources.

Time to fatten our crabs.