Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office 7, Cebu City
The stock status of Blue Swimming Crab (BSC), Portunus pelagicus, locally known as lambay, in Danajon Bank was assessed from June 2019 to September 2020 to monitor the impact of the BSC stock enhancement initiative by the Philippine Association of Crab Processors, Inc. (PACPI) in collaboration with BFAR 7. The stock was assessed based on the indicators, namely, catch per unit effort (CPUE), exploitation rate (E), average size, length at first maturity (Lm), and Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR). Data analysis was done using FAO-ICLARM Stock Assessment Tools (FiSAT) II software and the Barefoot Ecologist’s Toolbox for the Length-based Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR). Results show that BSC dominated the monitored landings accounting for 66% of the overall catch harvested mainly by crab pot and crab net. Higher CPUEs were obtained in the months of July, June, May and August with annual mean observed to be higher than the previous assessment conducted by ECOFISH in Danajon Bank particularly for crab pot. Population characteristics revealed that male crab grew slightly faster having higher asymptotic length (L∞ =21.65cm Carapace Width or CW) and growth constant (K=1.3yr-1) than female (L∞ =21.40cm CW, K=1.28yr-1). Sex ratio of male to female was at 1:1.28 indicating plenty of female crabs were captured than male. Gravid crabs were abundant in May, December, April and October. Recruitment pattern showed two pulses with primary peak occurred in April and May and secondary pulse happened in August and September. Encouraging performance indicator noted from this assessment was on the bigger probability of capture sizes and mean length of commonly caught BSC falling above the recommended catchable size of 10.2 cm CW pursuant to DA-DILG JAO No. 1 s. 2014. Maturity size (Lm) was estimated at 10.54 cm CW, though smaller than the previous reported Lm values in Danajon but still within the threshold. The estimated SPR was 26%, higher than 20% limit reference point but slightly lower than 27% recorded in the assessment done by ECOFISH Project in 2014 to 2015. The present SPR though lower than 30% precautionary threshold however higher than 21% generated in Visayan Sea Region 7 for the same period. The higher SPR in Danajon Bank compared to Visayan Sea maybe credited to the effect of stock enhancement activity implemented in the area, though observation is not yet conclusive. On the other hand, unfavorable indicators were seen on high exploitation rate (E), high exploitation at yield per recruit some of which already breached the optimum level, consequently subjecting Danajon Bank to high fishing pressure. It is recommended to continue the BSC stock enhancement program of PACPI and BFAR 7 taking consideration some strategies for improvement specified in the recommendations.