Vanuatu To Combat Illegal Harvesting Of Coconut Crab

Airport security to be stepped up to prevent shipment of threatened delicacy

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 4, 2016) – The Department of Fisheries (DoF) will be enforcing strong security at all airports to stop illegal harvesting of coconut crabs in Torba Province, starting next year.

Fisheries Officer for Torba Province, Jimmy Willie told Daily Post that coconut crabs on the islands in the northern province are diminishing as a result of over-harvesting.

“Coconut is a daily food for the people in the Torres group and the Banks group,” he said. “They (Torbans) have not been taking advice from the DoF seriously.

“On many of the islands, there is a decline the supply of coconut crabs has declined.

“On some only smaller sizes can be found while others lost all of them such as in the Banks Group.”

The northern Torba Province is rich with coconut crabs though the resource is widespread in Vanuatu.

According to Officer Willie, coconut crabs are banned from August to November throughout the year.

One single coconut takes a long time to grow to its minimum size for harvest.According to Officer Willie, the legal size for harvesting has been shift from 9 to 12 cm as provided under fisheries law.

Mr Willie said the DoF has been working closely with communities to set up fisheries associations to help maintain and protect the stock of coconut crabs in the province.

During the coconut harvesting season each year, the department will enforce strong security at the airports to stop the continuing practice of harvesting and freighting under-sized coconut crabs to other islands, Willie added.

Coconut crab is also highly demanded in menus by restaurants and hotels.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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