Conservation Benefits Community
Any kind of coastal ecosystem restoration can be successful, only if it can support sustainable livelihood of local community by potentially contributing. Our pilot mangrove restoration sites have proved that crab population increased with the increase of mangrove cover in restoration sites. However, not all our coastal community in Palk Bay directly depends on mangrove associated fishery along the coast. Mangrove assoicated fishery is more common in the villages around Muthupet Mangrove Reserve forest.
There is a small population of tribal community living adjacent to our mangrove restoration site, have been catching mangrove crabs, shrimps and fishes. They have no complex, expensive fishing gears and crafts. Both men and women do fishing in creeks and mangrove swamp. Women used to sit in the muddy mangrove waters to catch shrimps by hands, while men dig pit to catch crabs. Similarly people living in the villages behind the coastal area, used to visit the mangroves and salt marsh lands to catch crabs.
After a few years of developing our pilot mangrove restoration sites, our sites now become one of the favorite place for crab catchers, who some times break our fences. However, we do appreciate to catch crabs from our restoration sites, without damaging mangroves and seedlings.
Some info about crabs from wikipedia...
Mangrove crabs are crabs that live among mangroves, and may belong to many different species and even families. They have been shown to be ecologically significant in many ways. They keep much of the energy within the forest by burying and consuming leaf litter. Along with burrowing in the ground, this crustacean can climb trees to protect itself. The Hermit crab and the Mangrove crab are the only crustaceans that can climb trees as a defense mechanism. Furthermore, their feces may form the basis of a coprophagous food chain contributing to mangrove secondary production. Mangrove crab larvae are the major source of food for juvenile fish inhabiting the adjacent waterways, indicating that crabs also help nearshore fisheries.
In OMCAR restoration sites, we have conducted a study to count the number of crab holes using transects. Our study proved that number of crab holes were abundant adjacent to mangrove trees and under their canopy, and species of crabs are also different between mangrove and non mangrove area.
Scylla serrata (mud crab) is one of the highly valued product in international market, that provides a good economic support to small scale fishers living around mangroves. This crab is called as thillai nandu or samba nandu in Tamil. This crab has a dark green coloured shell, to hide itself behind mangroves.