Marine fishes and shellfishes are the important sources of protein and income, through fisheries, for number of people in Thailand, in particular those whom live along the coastlines. It is recognized that, nowadays, the marine fishery resources especially the Blue swimming crab (BSC) have become depleted due to high fishing pressure. The BSC is one of the most economic species of fishery industries in Thailand and exported worldwide, in which Thailand is the 5th largest exporter. Hence, the reduction in abundance of this shellfish is inevitably effect to the fishers and all the supply-chain sectors, which eventually effect to the country’s GDP from fishery products.
Walailak University (WU) is located in Nakhon Si Thammarat and the academic service area corresponds the Southern of Thailand, where marine fishery is among the main occupation of the local people. From the needs assessment surveys and requests from the stakeholders in BSC fishery, in particular the fishers per se, Thai Frozen Foods Association, local crab-processing factories, Thai Food Processor Association and Department of Fisheries (DoF). WU has launched the academic project that aims to improve BSC stock and its fishery in the 2 main fishing grounds in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani Provinces. The additional benefit of such project is an opportunity to get the certification on fishery improvement standard, i.e. Fishery improvement Projects (FIPs), which is advantage in order to prevent international trade wall and extend global markets for BSC products of Thailand.
The project that launched by WU is called “Crab Bank”, which is the community engagement project to not only answer the social needs but also build partnership and strengthening stakeholder participation. This project is financial supported by various organizations, in particular National Research Council of Thailand, Agricultural Research Development Agency and Ministry of Science and Technology. The “Crab Bank” is the program on taking the caught gravid females BSC in the in rearing condition, allowing them to spawn and then releasing the zoea and young crabs back to the sea. Along with the “Crab Bank” project, number of scientific studies to assess the condition of the BSC stocks, evaluate the fishing habitat, and other relevant issues have also been conducted, which collaborate to the listed stakeholders and other academic institutes, i.e. other universities in Thailand, NFI crab council (USA), World Wildlife Fund and Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG). The scientific is now focusing in Bandon Bay, the biggest BSC fishing ground in the Gulf of Thailand.
Training and knowledge sharing are the important processes to exchange information among stakeholders. The research findings related to crab restoration were discussed with stakeholders in several meetings at fishery community and DoF offices (Figure 1). The academic information about “Crab bank” operation was distributed to fishers who keen to be volunteer to the project. The evaluation of the fisher’s understanding about crab bank was also examined.
Figure 1. Meeting to discuss and share research findings with experts and stakeholders from government and industrial sectors
The total of 60 “Crab bank” were already constructed along coastal areas in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Surat Thani Pprovinces (Figure 2). At each bank, more than 10 fishers are involved. They not only act as committee, but also donors of gravid females crabs. This means that there are, at least, 600 fisher volunteers in these areas, which significantly increased comparing to before the project’s launching.
Figure 2. Crab bank station was built in fisher community.
This project per se was evaluated by both internal (grant agencies) and external (MRAG: UK) agencies. Baseline data of the projects were compared to the present data, i.e. after operating social engagement project. Impact pathways illustrate a clearly benefits of the project to social, environmental and economic dimensions (Figure 3).
Figure 3. The impact pathways of crab restoration project
The societal impact related to sustainable development goals (SDG) of this project covered at least 5 topics which are life below water, decent work and economic growth, zero hunger, no poverty and partnerships for the goals. The short explanation of each topic is showed in following paragraph
Figure 4. The improvement of Fishery improvement project (FIP) Scoring from C to A level.
Figure 5. Stakeholder partnerships
School of Science,
Walailak University, Thasala, Nakhon Si Thammarat 80160