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Accepted Paper:

Nursing Crabs and Killing Them Softly: Navigating the Ethical Tensions in Transnational Seafood Commerce  
Xuefei Shi (Chr. Michelsen Institute)

Paper Short Abstract:

This study examines the trade of mud crabs from Madagascar to China, focusing on cultural practices, logistics, and the impact on ecosystems, species sustainability, and human-animal relations.

Paper Abstract:

In controlled environments, how long can a crab sustain its life? What cultural nuances and intricate practices ensure the biological value of such a delicate creature in the global seafood trade? Since 2014, an annual capture of 5,000 tons of mud crabs (Scylla serrata) has journeyed from the mangroves of Madagascar to the bustling seafood market of Guangzhou, South China. These crabs are then disseminated alive across China’s expansive territory, catering to the specific gustatory desires of its population. This essay delves into the cultural and technical intricacies underpinning this transnational trade, focusing on the meticulous nursing, logistical, and slaughter strategies devised by humans to ensure these Malagasy crabs remain gastronomically vibrant. It explores the multifaceted relationships in the business: from Malagasy fishers to the crabs they capture, from Chinese traders to their prized inventory, and finally, to the end consumers who savor them. This analysis illuminates a precarious dimension of global seafood commerce that purses to heighten human culinary pleasure by treating these ocean animals with increased humanity—thus extending their transient livability. It also reveals a paradox that can distort the natural (indigenous) human-animal relations, potentially culminating in the endangerment of the species and the fragile ecosystems they inhabit.

Panel OP120
Caring for ocean creatures
  Session 2 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -