Historically the Thai Gulf has had a very active focus on the sea, which has provided a varied food source for the region for many hundreds of years and includes a wide range of fish, squid, shrimp and crab. Over recent years over fishing and depletion of marine stock has proved to be an issue and, at times the Thai Government has imposed limits and bans on certain fishing operations.
One community initiative, involving EcoThailand members, was first trialed in 2016 at Thong Sala on Koh Phangan. The concept of ‘Crab Banks’ had arrived – essentially crab nurseries where young crabs could be reared in a protected environment prior to sea release, so increasing the crab stocks.
A consultant from Chumpon helped to train local fishermen in the ‘art and science’ of harvesting crab eggs and rearing in an on-land tank environment using a pumped aeration system.
Interestingly, and a good example of local experience and initiative, the local fishing community found both the labor involved and running costs to be a disincentive. Their solution was to take the concept and to modify the practical application to overcome these issues. This they achieved by designing and building free floating nurseries which were tethered in protected harbours and were naturally aerated by the sea water and currents and requiring low labor input and no electical usage.
EcoThailand continues to support such sustainable farming and fishing practices in the Thai Gulf.
In 2020, partly in response to the impact of covid on local communities, the University of Walailuck, supported by the National Research Council of Thailand, sponsored a number of crab bank sites across Southern Thailand, several of which are on Koh Phangan and the surrounding islands and mainland. On Phangan, crab banks can be seen at Baan Kai, Baan Tai and Wok Tum, all of which we help to support via our MicroGrants program. It is hoped that these will develop to both increase the local crab stocks but also to provide a focus for the development of elements of community based tourism activity.