UMS makes breakthrough in mangrove crab breeding

Annita, with the small crablets on her palm, while Dr Rossita explains the challenges the team had to endure before successfully arriving at their present stage.

Annita, with the small crablets on her palm, while Dr Rossita explains the challenges the team had to endure before successfully arriving at their present stage.

KOTA KINABALU: Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Borneo Marine Research Institute (BMRI) shrimp hatchery has made a historical breakthrough by being the first to successfully produce crablets of the mangrove crab species Scylla tranquebarica in captivity.

According to BMRI director Associate Professor Dr Rossita Shapawi at a press conference held at the hatchery yesterday, the species was the dominant species in Sabah and commonly sold at the local markets and seafood restaurants.

Sabah is presently the major exporter of Scylla tranquebarica in the country, attributing to 55 percent of crab landings in the country.

Mangrove crabs are high value seafood not only in Sabah but also in other countries such as Taiwan, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Thailand. They are high in demand in the form of live crab as well as in frozen soft shell crab form.

The normal selling price of mangrove crabs in Sabah is between RM15 and RM28 per kilogram at the local wet markets, and RM36 and RM60 per kilogram at the restaurants, while soft shell crabs are sold at RM35 to RM45 per kilogram in frozen seafood outlets and RM50 to RM120 per kilogram at restaurants.

She said that in the UMS shrimp hatchery, efforts started with the captive breeding of this mangrove crab in 2013.

“The efforts began to pay off this April after several years of failed attempts,” she said.

She added that with the scientific breakthrough, they hope to be able to work with interested parties as the hatchery at UMS was inadequate for commercial production.

“Up until now, the industry is still dependent on wild supply, but sooner or later, we will not be able to depend on this. We are already seeing a huge depletion in the supply of the mangrove crabs, particularly female ones…so this is a significant contribution to the industry,” she said.

Meanwhile, the leader of the research team, senior lecturer Annita Yong Seok Kian said when they started the captive breeding in 2013, they faced several problems including disease infection and cannibalism that caused mass mortality of the broodstock.

“Similarly in the larval rearing, mass mortality also occurred within a week after hatching due to disease infection. The pathogens that cause the infection have been identified and preventive steps are established to improve the broodstock and larval health management in our hatchery,” she said.

Since then, various efforts have been taken to improve the maturity of the broodstock in captivity in enhancement of broodstock nutrition, simulation of tidal activity and habitat creation that mimics their natural habitat in the mangrove area, she said.

by Jenne Lajiun.

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2016/08/27/ums-makes-breakthrough-in-mangrove-crab-breeding/

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