The People’s Committee of Phú Quý Island District in the south-central coastal province of Bình Thuận is building a brand name for red frog crabs its fishermen catch. — VNS Photo Ngọc Diệp
HCM CITY — At 1 o’clock in the morning every day, unless it is very windy, Nguyễn Văn Sĩ of Phú Quý Island goes out 185km into the sea to catch Huỳnh Đế crabs, also known as red frog crabs.
“I catch 30-50 kilogrammes if the trip lasts only one morning, and 100 kilogrammes if I stay out for three days,” Sĩ says.
The crabs are an island specialty, delicious, fragrant and firm with a high protein content, that tourists love. They were presented to kings in the past, so locals regard them as a symbol of luck and prosperity.
Sĩ sells them for VNĐ600,000 per kilogramme, and higher during festivals and holidays.
He says: “Because of the high income, I switched to red frog crabs from fish. My life is better.”
Fishing is more sophisticated than in the past. He uses modern fishing equipment. He now knows what days might be windy and avoids going out to sea then thanks to a mobile application.
In the past he would go out to sea and make a loss if the weather was windy, he says.
According to the Phú Quý Island District People’s Committee, red frog crabs have high economic value and so many fishermen have begun to catch it in recent years.
It has registered the red frog crab as the island’s seafood specialty to be advertised through a programme titled Việt Nam’s Top Specialities in the Việt Nam Record Organisation’s VietTop.
Moreover, it is in the process of building a brand name for the crab.
The yield is quite high and the crabs are mostly served to tourists to the island and sold to restaurants in the local Bình Thuận Province and elsewhere.
Nguyễn Châu Anh, an economist on the people’s the committee, said the province’s Tuy Phong District, Cam Ranh city in Khánh Hòa Province and Bình Định Province also have this specialty crab, but with a different colour and taste.
“The committee encourages fishermen in the island to catch crabs of standard weight in order to reduce rapid depletion.”
The committee also calls on fishermen to upgrade their boats and fishing equipment, and to apply technology to ensure the quality of the crabs are preserved after they are caught.
Besides red frog crabs, the administration has also made plans to develop other seafood under a comprehensive programme to develop the aquatic industry on the island.
It has provided assistance to fishermen to upgrade their boats for offshore fishing and switch to other varieties of seafood if they wish.
Phú Quý Island’s sea-based economy has great potential for sustainable development. — VNS Photo Ngọc Diệp
It provided 531 vessels with a subsidy of more than VNĐ141 billion (US$6.1 million) each year for buying oil under Government Decree 67 on preferential policies for aquaculture.
Đặng Nhơn, 59, a fisherman, said: “The assistance is helpful. Without it, I and my colleagues will make losses.”
Fishermen who want to build a new vessel or upgrade their existing one can also get preferential loans, and more than VNĐ700 billion has been given so far.
A woman who asked not to be named said the loan has helped her husband build a larger and safer ship.
“I am less worried when my husband goes out to sea. The new ship has a refrigerated container for storing the catch.”
Phú Quý Island District has 1,395 ships including 525 with an engine of more than 90Cv capacity. They catch more than 28,000 tonnes a year.
Speaking during a visit to the island in March Nguyễn Ngọc Hai, chairman of the Bình Thuận Province People’s Committee, said it should focus on the sustainable development of its maritime economy because it has great potential.
The island’s fisheries catch has helped increase the entire province’s.
In the first six months of this year, its fishermen caught more than 93,000 tonnes, an increase of 2 per cent year-on-year, according to the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. — VNS