FAO: Tunisian fishermen turn invasive blue crab into lucrative business
20/10/2021 17:40, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP)-Tunisian fishermen have been able, with the support of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to turn an invasive species, the blue crab, into a lucrative business.

Tunisia’s blue crab exports rose significantly during the month of May 2021, reaching 2 090.9 tonnes with a value of USD 7.2 million (about 19.6 million Tunisian dinars), while exports for the same period in 2020 was 796.1 tonnes with a value of USD 3.1 million (or 8.6 million dinars), according to FAO.

The development of exports is due to the efforts made by the Tunisian authorities with the support of FAO, to train fishermen under the project " "Strengthening Governance and Development of Fisheries in Tunisia," and later develop a complete value chain for this niche market. 

According to the FAO, the first plant for processing and marketing of blue crab to the Asian market, built by the State on the Kerkennah Islands in 2019, is the source of a mini economic boom that has created locally, about fifty jobs. 

The first blue crab processing and marketing plant for the Asian market, created by the government in 2019 in the Kerkennah islands, triggered a mini economic boom in the area with 50 new jobs for plant technicians, it said.

Private sector investments in blue crab processing plants have gone from simple packaging and freezing raw crabs to preparing cooked products in order to expand to markets in Asia, Italy, Spain and the Americas.

Some food manufacturing plants in Zarzis are considering including cooked crab as one of their products to enter other markets. In fact, even in Tunisia where crab has never been a traditional dish or ingredient in cooking, this product is starting to appear on local menus due to its new availability in markets.

The UN organisation said the blue crab is the fifth most popular crab in the world market. It is especially sought out in the Asian, United States and Australian markets where it is featured on the menus of many restaurants.

An invasive species introduced into the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal, the blue crab threatened the artisanal fishing techniques used along the Tunisian coastline, specifically damaging the gillnets and traps used in the Charfia (a traditional, fixed fishery system that blocks the path of fish and leads them to traps).

With their sharp shells and claws, blue crabs ruin these fishing nets and feed on other fish species also caught in the nets or traps.

Blue crabs were first found off the Tunisian coast in 1993. By 2014, they began proliferating massively, causing significant damage to the coastal artisanal fishing sector, especially in the Gulf of Gabès in southeast Tunisia, where, during the high season, the blue crab represented more than 70 percent of the catch off this Mediterranean gulf.

Twitter Updates Newsletter Signup Contact Us

To receive our newsletter,register

tel: 71889000
fax: 71883500, 71888999