Kerkenne Blue Crab Festival to promote invasive alien species

From October 17 to 19, 2022, the Kerkenna Archipelago will host the Blue Crab Festival for the first time. The aim is to promote invasive alien marine species in order to support marine biodiversity and living resources on these islands. Tunisci are located about 21 kilometers from Sfax.

Indeed, the Kerkenna Islands have experienced an invasion of blue crabs colloquially known as Daesh in recent years. It is an invasive species that arrived in the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal. This jeopardized the methods used by small-scale fishermen along the Tunisian coast, damaging the nets and traps used for charfia fishing (a traditional method that uses a fixed fishing gear that blocks the path of fish to trap them).

According to the fishermen of Kerkenna, the blue crab appeared between 2016 and 2018 with an amazing feature, it could be seen every year, we read on the website kerkenniens.com. Since 2018, its distribution throughout the year, in greater or lesser quantities, begins to disrupt a fairly established and well-known system of fish farming.

Synopsis of the “Blue Crabs” festival.

The Kerkenna Blue Crab Festival also aims to raise awareness of the impact of plastic waste and the sustainable management of Posidonia oceanica sediments, an endemic sea grass and symbolic habitat of the Mediterranean.

This scientific, cultural, cultural and culinary event was created thanks to the synergy of the two cross-border Italian-Tunisian projects Bleu-adapt “Marine biological invasion and fisheries: research, mitigation and adaptation in the context of climate change” and Med Dé -Co-U- Plages “Sustainable Economy Techniques for Usable Coastal Beach Waste”.

In the program of the festival scientific conferences, screenings of films and documentaries, workshops, seminars and round tables, bringing together all stakeholders of the marine environment.

Charfia, a fixed fishery of the Kerkenna Islands, a UNESCO Intangible Heritage, is at the heart of the action. Trips to the sea and visits to these facilities will be monitored by a group of fisheries experts.

An emphasis on environmental actions is also part of the festival’s activities, with the grand opening of the first ecological beach in the Kerkenna Archipelago and the involvement of the fishing fleet in cleaning the seabed, as well as an environmental parade aimed at raising awareness. the general public about the scale of sea pollution, especially plastic waste.

Blue crab from an invasive species to an export commodity

In recent years, Tunisian fishermen have managed to turn this invasive species into an export product with the support of FAO.

The first blue crab processing and sales plant for the Asian market, built by the state in the Kerkenna Islands in 2019, is the origin of a mini-economic boom that has created around fifty jobs locally. The private sector, which initially invested simply in the packaging and freezing of raw products; now interested in finished products for Asia, Italy, Spain and the American continent. Some Zarzis factories even plan to add boiled crab to their catalog to conquer other markets and even Tunisia.

According to FAO, the blue crab ranks fifth among the most sought-after crabs on the world market. It is particularly popular in Asia, the US and Australia, where many restaurants feature it on their menus.

Teciano from TAP

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