Caribbean: Mithrax Crab Mariculture
This is an assessment of the social and cultural factors that potentially will influence the transfer of Caribbean King Crab or Mithrax mariculture as it has been developed in two West Indian project sites. The projects are located in Nonsuch Bay, Antigua, and Buen Hombre,Dominican Republic. The projects derive from an original proposal entitled "A New Mariculture Project for the Lesser Antilles," which was submitted by the Smithsonian Institution, Marine Systems Laboratory (MSL), to the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID). That project was funded as AID Project No. 598 -065. This anthropological and sociological assessment was contracted by the Smithsonian Institution as specified in P.O. No. ST5080090000 on July 10, 1985.
Additional Text for Carib Mithrax Introduction:
US AID used the term Social Soundness Analysis where otherwise it is termed Social Impact Assessment. Purpose of this study then is to understand the fit between the mariculture technology and culture of the local artisanal fishers. The study also looked at the fit between the Mithrax Crab and the existing market system. This portion of the study was headed by Dr. Michael Rubino.
The Mithrax Research and Development (R&D) plan was brought together because of Dr. Walter Adey, Director of the Marine Systems Laboratory of the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Adey has the rare combination of interdisciplinary scientific insights and the values of a concerned humanist. Walter Adey is noted for understanding why coral reefs are so productive in an ocean that is largely without organic materials. A simple interpretation is that coral reefs hold still and let the ocean wash over them again and again. Not only was he able to solve the "mystery of the coral reef," but he wanted to apply his technological breakthrough to the service of people world wide.
So with this insight Dr. Adey set out to capture the productivity of the coral reefs by hanging plastic and wood screens in the water and letting the ocean wash back and forth thus encouraging the rapid growth of algae. Next he needed a commercial animal (or simply a food animal) and generally settled on the Mithrax Crab. This crab is vegetarian, so they do not eat each other in a cage. It is an animal that likes to be with its own kind. These Crabs often sleep together in underwater caves. Thus was born the idea of the Blue Revolution.
Instead of permitting others to find practical applications for his technology, he sought to do so himself. His expressed goal was to make, with only a moderate investment, the tropical seas a major new source of carbohydrate and protein for a hungry world (Adey 1983). He felt the best way to accomplish this goal was to place the technology directly in the hands of individual producers in Third World countries.
For three critical years, Dr. Adey held to the goal of adoption by individual fishermen despite strong pressures to release the technology to large international corporations.
Presented here is a study of only 2 of a number of R&D (Research and Development) locations set up by the MSL to understand Mithrax mariculture in the Caribbean.
In addition this Collection contains two power point organized photo presentations which are provided to better understand Mithrax R&D issues and how these have played out in the two MSL locations. One photo presentation is focused on the MSL project in the Dominican Republic while the other photo presentation is focused on the MSL project in Antigua.
In addition to the ethnographic reports produced for this collection, the following articles and book chapters were produced:
Rubino, M. and R. Stoffle
1990 Who Will Control the Blue Revolution? Economic and Social Feasibility of Caribbean Mithrax Crab Mariculture. Human Organization 49(4): 386-394.
Rubino, M. and R. Stoffle
1989 Caribbean Mithrax Crab Mariculture and Traditional Seafood Distribution. Proceedings of Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute, 39th Annual Meeting, Bermuda, November 9-14, 1986.
Stoffle, R. and D. Halmo
1992 The Transition To Mariculture: A Theoretical Polemic and Caribbean Case.In Coastal Aquaculture in Developing Countries: Problems and Perspectives. Richard B. Pollnac and Priscilla Weeks, Eds. Kingston, RI: International Center for Marine Resource Development, University of Rhode Island. Pp. 135-161.
Stoffle, R., D. Halmo, and B. Stoffle
1991 Inappropriate Management of Appropriate Technology: A Re-study of Mithrax Crab Mariculture in the Dominican Republic. In Small-Scale Fishery Development: Sociocultural Perspectives. J. Poggie and R. B. Pollnac, eds. Kingston: International Center for Marine Resource Development, University of Rhode Island. Pp. 131- 157.
Stoffle, R., M. Rubino, and D. Rasch
1988 Fishermen and Crab Mariculture in the Caribbean. Practicing Anthropology 10(1): 10-11,14.
Richard Stoffle and his team also conducted a study on coastal communities and their impacts on coral reefs with a focus on Buen Hombre, Dominican Republic. Information on this project can be found in the Richard Stoffle Collection under the heading Caribbean: Coastal Communities and Coral Reef Management.