There’s a cool breeze in Ban Hua Laem. Inches of rain trickle down in the small village. Huddled around blue plastic crab nets are groups of people with hooks untangling brown and blue slippery jewels. Crab and fisher folks, whose livelihood is the ocean, has constantly adapted their way of life to meet their needs. Right now, they rely heavily on these jewels of the ocean, the blue swimming crabs, for livelihood. It is a community affair, as the old, young, men and women all help out with the catching, cleaning, and selling of crab.
Located in the Sanam Chai subdistrict of Nah Yai Arm district in Chantaburi Province, Thailand, the coastal communities are not waiting for climate change before they respond. Already actors of their own change, the crab and fisher communities take on adaptation even before governmental officials tell them so; or in certain parts of the world, it becomes too late. Due to the area’s squid population diminishing, these coastal communities have had to shift their approach and find something new. This small-scale fishing community had to adapt to catching blue swimming crabs.
Armed with fishing supplies and a rich diversity of the ocean that lay behind their backyards, fisher people like Mrs. Sompong Jamnarnchon, 48 years old, has had to adapt to the change. “We had to stop squid fishing because the squid population has reduced severely.”
Facing natural resource degradation in 2009, Sompong and her people adapted with rationality, “we are able to do aquaculture to increase the population of blue swimming crabs.”
The community has been able to catch blue swimming crabs while maintaining their sustainability by investing in crab banks. A simple concept that began earlier this year (2011) by taking caught pregnant crabs and raising them in a side tank until they release their eggs. The community releases the eggs back to the sea, increasing sustainability as each egg sack has about 1 and a half million eggs; therefore, increasing the crab population for future generations. The crab bank, which now has 30 members’ contributing 5 pregnant crabs a month, shows promising and fruitful results.
The future looks bright for Sompong and her children, who will inherit the family skill of crabbing and their mom’s 20-year-old livelihood that has sustained their very own community. Adapting now, the community will be able to tap into their resources for future survival. But climate change is a constant threat that continues to push coastal communities to fight back for their livelihood and food security. The fisher and crab folks and their allies must constantly seek out new solutions. It is in their hands, or in this case…nets.
Story by SDF Thailand