Coconut Crab Production Using Recycled Food Sources

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2006: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: Northern Mariana Islands
Principal Investigator:


  • Animals: shellfish


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, animal protection and health, feed additives, mineral supplements, watering systems
  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal summary:

    On Rota in the Northern Mariana Islands, about 5% of ranchers have for several decades grown captive populations of coconut crop. The demand for this delicacy, which sells for $50 a plate in tourist restaurants, has far exceeded annual production of farm-raised crabs, so the bulk of consumption has come from hunted wild crabs, which has impacted their natural populations. This grant intends to increase the number of captive coconut crabs, which will relieve hunting pressure on wild crab populations, provide a source of income for the indigenous people who raise them and increase the diversity of the Mariana’s farming systems. This grant will test the success of growing the coconut crabs with a more nutritious diet than the traditional coconut fruit in the husk. In addition, it will see how the crabs respond in a clean environment with fresh water and adequate shade. Project coordinator Henry Atalig has been growing the crabs on his ranch for decades, and he and his son hope to increase the size of their crab herd using scientifically balanced products found through the Internet.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.