Dinagat can be lobster capital

By Tracy Cabrera

THE expanding market for lobsters in China is continuing to grow, with the country setting a new record for the value of its imports of the crustaceans from the United States.

Just in the first month of this year, America exported more than 1.7 million pounds and $14 million worth of lobsters to China.

Looking at these figures, this could be an opportunity for the Philippines to get a slice of the lobster market, especially since it is right smack in the middle of the world’s center of marine biodiversity.


Dinagat as source of lobsters  

With this in mind, the little known island of Dinagat could be a potential source of the crustaceans. Tranquil and serene, it has gradually transformed through the years into a thriving aquaculture center, with lobster, lapu-lapu, mud crab and seaweed farms all gearing up for the money-spinning export market.

Last year, 113 members of the San Pedro Aqua-Marine Resource and Development (SPAMRD), mostly residents of Sitios San Pedro and Plaridel, Barangay Libjo, raised about P7.7 million as their equity for their first commercial aquaculture project. 

Last November, they acquired a P4 million loan fund from the Self-Reliant Team (SRT) program of the Quedan Rural Credit and Guarantee Corporation (Quedancor) which they used to expand its project.


Money in lobsters

The SRT model involves grouping five to 15 accredited farmers or fisherfolk living in the same community who volunteer to participate under the program. 

This approach puts a premium on the sub-culture of the team and behavior of group members. A team leader is selected or elected among the members of the SRT group. His main tasks involve ensuring that the group’s members pay their loans on time.

The project is spearheaded by Dinagat vice-mayor Romeo Villarosa who has successfully convinced his constituents of the potential benefits of coming up with a production volume that would be sustainable and adequate for the export market. 

“We know there is money in raising and selling groupers, lobsters and mud crab in fish farms or cages, and also dried seaweeds. But we realized that we cannot undertake a project of this scale individually, so we pooled our resources and asked loan and technical assistance from agencies such as Quedancor,” said Villarosa.


Growing middle class

Last year, China imported more than $108 million in lobsters from America, surpassing the previous high of about $90.2 million in 2014. In weight, Chinese importers took in more than 14 million pounds of U.S. lobsters, which is also a record. The previous high was about 13.1 million pounds the previous year.

One of the factors spurring the growth of lobsters in China appears to be the growth of the country's middle class, according to Stephanie Nadeau, owner of The Lobster Company, in Arundel, Maine.

“It’s kind of an affordable luxury,” Nadeau pointed out. 

“One of my customers said our lobsters are one of the cheapest things in the live tanks,” she added.



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Sunday, 19 January 2020
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