By Gia Loc / Viet Nam NewsHO CHI MINH CITY — At 1 o’clock in the morning every day, unless it is very windy, Nguyen Van Si of Phu Quy Island goes out 185 kilometers into the sea to catch Huynh De crabs, also known as red frog crabs.
“I catch 30 to 50 kilograms if the trip lasts only one morning, and 100 kilograms if I stay out for three days,” Si says.
The crabs are an island specialty, delicious, fragrant and firm with a high protein content, that tourists love. They were presented to kings in the past, so locals regard them as a symbol of luck and prosperity.
Si sells them for 600,000 Vietnam dong (about $26) per kilogram, and higher during festivals and holidays.
“Because of the high income, I switched to red frog crabs from fish. My life is better,” he says.
Fishing is more sophisticated than in the past. He uses modern fishing equipment. He now knows what days might be windy and avoids going out to sea then, thanks to a mobile application.
In the past he would go out to sea and make a loss if the weather was windy, he says.
According to the Phu Quy Island District People’s Committee, red frog crabs have high economic value and so many fishermen have begun to catch them in recent years.
It has registered the red frog crab as the island’s seafood specialty to be advertised through a program titled Vietnam’s Top Specialities in the Vietnam Record Organization’s VietTop.
Moreover, it is in the process of building a brand name for the crab.
The yield is quite high and the crabs are mostly served to tourists on the island and sold to restaurants in the local Binh Thuan Province and elsewhere.
Nguyen Chau Anh, an economist on the people’s committee, said the province’s Tuy Phong District, Cam Ranh city in Khanh Hoa Province and Binh Dinh Province also have this specialty crab, but with a different color and taste.
“The committee encourages fishermen in the island to catch crabs of standard weight in order to reduce rapid depletion.”
The committee also calls on fishermen to upgrade their boats and fishing equipment, and to apply technology to ensure the quality of the crabs are preserved after they are caught.
Besides red frog crabs, the administration has also made plans to develop other seafood under a comprehensive program to develop the aquatic industry on the island.
It has provided assistance to fishermen to upgrade their boats for offshore fishing and switch to other varieties of seafood if they wish.
It provided 531 vessels with a subsidy of more than VND141 billion ($6.1 million) each year for buying oil under Government Decree 67 on preferential policies for aquaculture.
Dang Nhon, 59, a fisherman, said: “The assistance is helpful. Without it, I and my colleagues will make losses.”
Fishermen who want to build a new vessel or upgrade their existing one can also get preferential loans, and more than VND700 billion has been given so far.
A woman who asked not to be named said the loan has helped her husband build a larger and safer ship.
“I am less worried when my husband goes out to sea. The new ship has a refrigerated container for storing the catch,” she said.
Phu Quy Island District has 1,395 ships including 525 with an engine of more than 90Cv flow capacity. They catch more than 28,000 tons a year.
Speaking during a visit to the island in March, Nguyen Ngoc Hai, chairman of the Binh Thuan Province People’s Committee, said it should focus on the sustainable development of its maritime economy because it has great potential.
The island’s fisheries catches have helped increase the entire province’s.