Striving to pave the way for sustainable crab farming in Kenya.
Since the start of the Kenya Crab Farm in 2013, Justin's vision has grown from simply supplying his hotel and restaurant with fresh, meaty crabs to realising that this could be a sustainable farming technique that could provide the local Kenyans with a new skill and a stable income whilst also protecting the environment.
The reliance on wild seed for mud crab farming is a major bottleneck for the crab farming industry worldwide. Even at the current harvest rate in most Asian countries, quantities of wild caught seed are not sufficient to meet demand. Also collected juveniles are often not uniform in size and can consist of mixed species. Juvenile mud crabs are already over-exploited in many places, which will inevitably impact natural populations and local fisheries. Although it is still not clear if this is the case in East Africa, the global trend points towards the increase in crab demand and the dwindling wild seed. There is already too many fishermen in the mangroves trying to make a living and this leads not only to a decrease in crab population but also can lead to the destruction of mangroves.
The Kenya Crab Farm and Justin's views are to supply out grow farmers with crablets from his hatchery, as well as being able to release crablets into mangroves to increase the wild population.
Importance of Mangroves
Mangroves are among the most productive and biologically complex ecosystems on Earth. Birds roost in the canopy, shellfish attach themselves to the roots, and snakes and crocodiles come to hunt. Mangroves provide nursery grounds for fish; a food source for monkeys, deer, tree-climbing crabs, and a nectar source for bats and honeybees. Sea turtles and other creatures use the intricate root system to seek food and shelter from predators. They are extremely important to the environment and local communities alike; they recycle nutrients and can be used as a source of food, fuel, building material, fishing bait, dye, traditional medicines and eco-tourism.
Mangrove forests fall behind tropical forests and coral reefs in conservation. Just as it is critical to combat destruction caused in our rain forests, likewise it is important to control the threats facing the mangrove forests. The loss of our mangrove forest is caused by both natural changes and human factors. Diseases, biological pests and parasites e.g. barnacles, leaf eating crabs and caterpillars are some of the natural factors that degrade our mangroves. Mangrove forests have been over exploited and destroyed due to urbanisation, cutting mangroves to develop land near the ocean, cutting them for timber, fuel and charcoal as well as pollution.
The mangrove forests in Kenya have traditionally been used as building poles and firewood. As the population continues to increase in coastal regions, there has been a significant depletion of mangrove forests. A recent ‘boom’ of tourism in the coastal areas over the last couple decades has led to an increasing demand for construction of restaurants and bars, residential and commercial properties, industrial salt production factories, all of which compete for space. Industries, agriculture, sewage and oil spills cause much marine pollution. This hinders the growth and distribution of mangroves. These are just some of the factors threatening this unique type of forest.