Crab Life Banks: A Nature-Based Solution to Safeguard Thailand's Most Vulnerable Coastal Areas from Climate Change

January 15, 2024


With the country's long, beautiful coastal area spanning 3,100 kilometers and covering 17 provinces, this unique geolocation serves as both an environmental and economic backbone of Thailand. It provides rich and diverse ecosystem functions and services, playing a crucial role in feeding marine species and supporting the country through fisheries. Additionally, it stands as a globally renowned tourism gem, attracting visitors from around the world.

The unique setting, with its rich benefits and exposure attracting economic activity like fisheries, has led to the deterioration and imbalance of marine and coastal ecosystems. Without sustainable management, this situation is exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, abnormally elevated seawater temperatures, and storms, posing a threat to millions of marine species and human lives.

The emergence of this national vulnerability demands urgent action.

A Pilot Area to Test Marine Life Bank Model


Thailand is ranked 9th among the countries most affected by climate change according to GermanWatch Global Climate Risk Index in 2021, experiencing an annual increase in sea levels. In addition to mitigating climate risks, there is hence a need to adapt our relevant activities to respond and prepare for the existing and expected climate risks along the Gulf of Thailand.

In close collaboration with the Department of Climate Change and Environment and the Department of Coastal and Marine Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and with support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), UNDP designated Phumriang sub-district in the Chaiya district of Surat Thani province as a pilot area. This initiative aimed to experiment with strategic adaptive measures, including the establishment of aquatic life banks and marine artificial habitats, as direct solutions to restore balance to the marine and coastal ecosystems along with elevating community-based tourism as an enabler for climate adaptation in the area.

‘Blue Swimming Crab Bank’ As a Key Species to Save Livelihood of Coastal Areas


The blue swimming crab is not only a locally famous food but also a favorite worldwide, contributing to the Thai economy through exports. However, the economic gains have led to unsustainable fishing practices, including the use of gear that captures tiny crabs and the harvesting of crabs with eggs, contributing to an imbalance in the marine and coastal ecosystems. This situation is further exacerbated by climate risks, resulting in the catch or death of marine life before reaching reproductive age.

In response to this challenge, marine life banks were established, encompassing not only blue swimming crabs but also mangrove crabs, squids, cuttlefish, and cobia. The establishment process involved local people, including fishers, collaboratively reflecting on pain points, brainstorming ideas, and implementing solutions at the same decision-making level as local authorities to foster a bottom-up approach for solutions.

As fisheries play a crucial role in the income and food security of the local residents, the marine life bank has gradually become the lifeline of the people in the area—restoring the balance of the ecosystem and providing an additional local resource for fishers to run restaurants. The key to the sustainability of this bank lies in empowering local stakeholders with ownership and leadership roles in its management, contributing to the conservation and enhancement of marine and coastal resources. As a nature-based solution, the bank enables the sustainable management of natural resources at a low enforcement cost.

Marine Life Banks that Bring the Tourism to Life


What can we learn from the Marine Life Banks in Chaiya, another area highly vulnerable to climate change?

Not only does the marine life bank in Chaiya District provide a model with technical knowledge and practices for other coastal areas, but it also imparts a crucial lesson in the 'community-based approach'—a key takeaway applicable to various climate actions to sustain the impact of these measures.

Today, Chaiya District, another area highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, has transformed into a region where the local community can rely on marine and coastal resources as key sources of natural capital. Moreover, it has emerged as a tourism hub across supply chains, encompassing homestays, restaurants, and local product shops.