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Mangrove Crab’s Story from Bintuni Bay, West Papua

mangrove crab

Mangrove crabs (Scylla Serrata) are one of the favorite menus among seafood lovers. Mangrove crabs are listed as the leading fisheries commodity in Indonesia. The demand for culinary one continues to increase, both in the domestic and foreign markets.

Bintuni Bay Regency – one of the mangrove crab producing areas in Indonesia has around ± 260 thousand hectares of mangrove forest. It covers 10% of the total area of mangrove forest in Indonesia. The increase in demand for mangrove crabs has triggered excessive capture in their habitat.


“In terms of the number of crabs caught lately, it seems that it has not been so different from 1996/1997, but seeing the size of the crabs is getting smaller,” said Suriyanto, one of the crab fishermen in Bintuni Bay.

Catching mangrove crabs in Bintuni Bay, especially in the Ausoy Banjar Village is dominated by small fishing fleets measuring under 10 GT (Gross Ton). By using a 15 PK outboard engine (Paarden Kracht / Horsepower), mangrove crab fishermen can carry out fishing activities for up to three consecutive days at the target location, then return to the mainland or fishing base.


Bubu Kotak

The fishing gear used is a trap, a trap made from nets specifically made to catch crabs. There are 2 types of trap used by fishermen in Kampung Banjar Ausoy, namely “bubu kotak” and “wadong” (round shape).

The difference between the two fishing gear are the shape, frame material used. For box trap using an iron frame, while the “wadong” uses thinned bamboo then formed into a circle. In one fishing trip, Kampung Banjar Ausoy fishermen can carry up to 80 units of “bubu”, which will later be distributed on the fishing grounds. Within a month, on average fishermen carry out fishing activities at least 4 trips, with catches of ± 400 kg to 1 tonne.

Sustainability of Mangrove Crab Practices

Regulation of the Minister of Marine Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia Number 56 Year 2016 stated conditions for catching mangrove crabs are:

  1. Female crab withoutlaying eggs.
  2. Carapace widths above 15 cm or weighing above 200 grams per

Based on the above regulations, this is certainly a challenge for fisheries businesses from fishermen level to the entrepreneur / industry level. They have to carried out business practices in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.

In Banjar Ausoy Village, normally crab fishermen will release their catch back to their habitat if they get a size below 200 grams.

Fishermen rarely take small-sized crabs (under 200 grams) as local exporters will not buy crabs at that size as well.

WWF-Indonesia – the Project implementing partner of USAID Sustainable Ecosystems Advanced (USAID SEA) encourages improvement in fisheries practices as a form of commitment in sustainable fisheries management.

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Cleaning Soft Shell Crab

cleaning soft shell crab

How to Clean Soft Shell Crab

Starting Out

Rinse the soft shell crab with water to help remove any dirt or debris clinging to the crab.

rinse soft shell crab with water

Cut off the Face

The first step is to, shall we say, deface the crab. Using the shears or knife, cut across the front of the crab, just behind the eyes and mouth-parts to remove them—it should all come off in a single, approximately 1/4-inch-wide strip.

cut off soft shell crab face

Remove the Gills

Now lift one of the corners of the top shell to expose the nasty-tasting gills, which look like frilly little beige pointy tongues. Grab the gills and rip them all out at the base. Repeat on the other side of the top shell.

remove the gill - 1
remove the gill - 2
remove the gill - 3

Pull off the Apron

Finally, turn the crab over to expose its underside. There you will find a flap known as the apron; for male crabs it will be long and thin, for females (as shown here) it will be wider. Lift the apron with your fingers and pull it off the body. It should come free fairly easily.

Now your crabs are ready to be cooked and eaten in (what remains of) their entirety.

Pull off the apron
Pull off the apron 2

Related Articles: Soft Shell Crab Farming