Friday, August 8, 2008

PS 75-48: Management plan ineffective: Socio-economics determine capture rates of land crab, Cardisoma guanhumi, in Puerto Rico

Yogani Govender, University of Puerto Rico


For a number of years now the land crab, Cardisoma guanhumi, population in Puerto Rico has been declining, as a result a management plan based on biology prohibits the capture of crabs from July to October. Since no information exists about the people involved in the crab industry or on the history of the crab fishery in Puerto Rico, the current management plan did not consider the effect the prohibition on capture will have on the socio-economic status of crab hunters. Our objectives for this research was to 1) obtain the history of the crab fishery in Puerto Rico, 2) to understand the socio-economics of the individuals involved in the industry, and 3) to determine the effectiveness of the current management plan. In this paper we used semi-structured interviews in eight communities surrounding two estuaries, San Juan Bay Estuary and Jobos Bay Estuary, in Puerto Rico. We used snowballing techniques to identify crab hunters within the communities. All interviews (52) were used in the analysis as we could not pre-select for age or sex. Our interviews lasted for an hour and took place in the homes of the crab hunters. All data from the interviews was analyzed using SPSS.


We found no differences in the responses between crabs hunters in San Juan Bay and Jobos Bay. Our results showed that majority of the crab hunters (51-60 years old) had more that 20 years experience capturing crabs. Only 28 % caught crabs as their primary source of income while 72 % only caught crabs when they were unemployed. We found that all individuals involved in the crab fishery earn a total income below the national poverty level and supplement their incomes by catching crabs. We found significant relationships between the income from the sale of crabs, the number of crabs trapped and the number of years catching crabs. We concluded that crab hunting in Puerto Rico is a family tradition and is an important part of the cuisine and culture of Puerto Ricans. In addition we concluded that the crab fishery in Puerto Rico is a common property fishery and the socio-economic status of crab hunters cause them to be vulnerable to the markets, resulting in them being non-selective in size and sex of crabs they capture and sell. Understanding the socio-economics of the crab hunters provides vital information that explains the failure of the current management plan.