Tag the Traps
Land crab stew! Land crab pastelillos! Rice with land crab! These are some of the traditional meals made in Puerto Rico, using the land crab that lives near beaches, wetlands and mangrove ecosystems. However, due to over harvesting and poaching, this species is listed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources [DNER] as protected on nature reserves and it is illegal to harvest them between July and October.
However, on the little sister island, the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge [VNWR] protects over 50% of the island and restricts access to the habitat ensuring the land crab population may develop with less poaching. In 2020, the VNWR partnered with Ticatove to conduct a population study of the land crab (Cardisoma guanhumi) and in 2022 determined, due to the results, that the population could sustain harvesting by permitted crabbers for home consumption of this traditional (and tasty) food source.
25 Viequense crabbers were issued permits last week and brought their traps to the refuge to be properly tagged and registered. For the following 4 weeks, they'll enjoy being able to be legally engage in a fun family activity and pass the tradition down. Community cooperation ensures that our natural resources are properly managed so that this beautiful and important species, both to the ecosystem and to the people of the island, is maintained for the enjoyment of both present and future generations.