August 19, 2016

Crab exports to China fall with species decline in Rakhine State

Crab farming is seen in Rakhine State. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency
Crab farming is seen in Rakhine State. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency

DWINDLING hauls of crab catchers in Rakhine State has led to smaller crab exports to China, according to companies that export the crustaceans abroad.
U Aung Naing Lin, manager of the soft crab meat producing company Ngwe Nga Kyun, said the decline in exports began last August due to a combination of a fall in the volume of crabs being caught and shrinking demand in foreign markets.
“In the first half of 2015, we were able to export on average between eight and 10 tonnes [of crabs] per month, depending on the volume of our catches. The decline in demand from foreign markets, including the EU, at the start of last August was the catalyst for the decline of crab-catching businesses locally. The first two months of this year have seen us export just between just six and seven tonnes. Our decline is also affected by the direct export of crabs to Muse [on the Chinese border] from the townships of Myaybon, Inn and Kanhtaung Gyi,” he said.
Soft crab meat from Rakhine State is mainly exported to China, Singapore, Japan, Australian and EU markets. Despite the lack of fluctuations in the price of crab meat, lower crab yields and shrinking demand have forced crab exporting companies have been forced to reduce their business activities. “The Kyauk Phyu Than Sit River was cleared to make way for Chinese oil tankers. It’s had a disastrous impact on the natural ecosystem, causing distinct declines in the numbers of crabs being caught. People are catching immature crabs and selling them in local markets. This is enabled by the weakness of the Fisheries Department in educating crab catchers [on the negative consequences of their actions],” said U Htun Wai, owner of the Shwe Yaung Ashaytaing Ah Aye Khan crab meat processing company. There are three crab meat exporting companies based in Kyauk Phyu Township. While there has been a decline in demand for crab meat from markets in Singapore, Japan, Australia and the EU, demand from China has remained constant. Kyauk Phyu crab meat companies export their produce through connections with agents based in Yangon. Dependent on their size, a kilo of crabs fetches between $6 and $8, while the current market price for a tonne of crabs goes for between K18 million and K20 million, according to export companies.


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