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New developments to boost Aurora fish production

April 13, 2011
March 23, 2011, 2:14pm

AURORA, Philippines — Fisherfolk in Aurora can expect a boost in the province’s fishery output with the new developments that can further enhance fish production, especially in the areas covered by the 321-hectare Casiguran Mariculture Park.

Last February, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala together with the officials from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) inaugurated the Multi-Species Hatchery, the Blue Crab Breeding and Hatchery, and the Seaweed Tissue Culture Laboratory in Baler; the Multi-Species Nursery in Dipaculao; and also launched the P10-million fishcage project in the Casiguran Mariculture Park which will benefit fishermen in the whole province.

The Casiguran Mariculture Park has several components covering the entire production chain – from broodstock, to nursery up to processing plants. The recent developments, according BFAR, will increase fisheries production in Aurora by at least fifty percent and will contribute to fish sufficiency not only in Aurora but in nearby provinces as well such as Nueva Ecija, Nueva Viscaya, Quirino and Isabela.

Multi-Species Nursery

The Multi-Species Nursery in Dipaculao town aims to annually produce 2.38 million post-fingerlings of milkfish and other high-value marine finfishes that will sustain the intensive requirement of the marine cages in the Casiguran Mariculture Park.

BFAR said that Dipaculao was found suitable for nursery establish¬ment because of its good quality supply of marine and freshwater. It is also accessible by land transportation.

The nursery boasts of 21,125-square meter nursery ponds and 27,382-square meter transition ponds. Nursery ponds are where fish are reared from fry to fingerling stage (1 to 30 days) after which the fingerlings will be trans-ferred to transition ponds up to post-fingerling stage (31-60 days).

At a stocking rate of 50 fry per square meter, the nursery ponds can accommodate a total of 1,012,500 pieces of 21-day old milkfish fry; while transition ponds can hold 528,125 pieces of 2- to 3-inch milkfish fingerlings at a stocking rate of 20 pieces per square meter. The recorded survival rate is 50% for nursery ponds and 90% for transition ponds. These result in 475,312 milkfish fingerlings per run (cycle) or a total of 2,376,560 fingerlings a year.

In addition, BFAR has awarded a patrol boat to Dipaculao under PL 480 to improve its enforcement capability in fishery and coastal resources management.

Multi-Species Fish Hatchery

Located about 100 meters away from Port Cemento and 10 kilometers away from Baler town proper, the Multi-Species Fish Hatchery in Brgy. Zabali can produce 40-million fry annually which will be absorbed by the finfish nurseries for rearing into fingerlings. The fingerlings will be supplied to the marine cages in the mariculture park.

The species to be cultured include milkfish, seabass, saline-tolerant tilapia, pompano, and abalone, among others.

The hatchery has 24 units of natural food tanks with a total capacity of 15,000 liters; 16 units of larval rearing tanks with a total capacity of 15,000 liters; and 17 units of nursery tanks with 14,000 tons total capacity. At a stocking rate of 20 larvae per liter, 4 million fry (21-day old) milkfish can be produced per cycle. Fry mortality was recorded at 85 percent.

Like the Dipaculao Fish Nursery, the Multi-Species Hatchery project is implemented by DA-BFAR, local government unit of Casiguran, SEAFDEC, and the offices of Senator Edgardo Angara and Congressman Juan Edgardo Angara. Both facilities started their operations in March 2011.

Blue Crab Breeding and Hatchery

The Blue Crab Breeding and Hatchery is located at the Aurora Brackish water Marine Aquaculture Technology Center (ABMATC) inside the campus of Aurora State College of Technology in Brgy. Zabali, Baler. Rehabilitated in October 2010, the facility became fully operational in December 2010 and is now targeting an annual production of 500,000 to 1,500,000 crablets of blue crab (Portunus pelagicus).

The hatchery is managed by BFAR RRegional Office 3 and SEAFDEC with initial technical assistance from BFAR Regional Office 8 which was the first to successfully breed blue crab in captivity.

Due to the decline in blue crab population in the wild, project leader Wilfredo Cruz said that they gathered stocks from the wild and breed these in captivity to sustain its production and meet the growing demand in the market.

BFAR said the crablets will be intended for culture in ponds, cages and for stock enhancement in mangrove areas in the municipalities of Baler, Dipaculao, Dinalungan, Casiguran, San Luis, and Dingalan. BFAR also aims to promote the crablet industry by developing value-added products from blue crab for local and export markets.

The breeding facility consists of eight 20-cubic meter algal tanks, five 1-cubic meter rotifer tanks, and five 20-cubic meter larval rearing tanks.

Aside from blue crab, the facility also produces broodstocks of grouper, pangasius, prawn, saline-tolerant tilapia, and red tilapia.

Seaweed Tissue-Culture Lab

Also situated in ABMATC and managed by BFAR Region 3, the P1.75-million seaweed tissue culture laboratory will address productivity declines by rehabilitating planting materials in laboratories through branch and spore cultures and micropropagation.

According to Carmen Agustin, chief of Fish Health Section of BFAR Rgion 3 and the supervisor of the seaweed laboratory, the BFAR tissue-culture seaweed laboratory intends to preserve the genetic material of native farmed seaweed species and improve the existing seedstocks in farms. Likewise, the laboratory will assure seaweed farmers in Aurora of healthy planting materials in times when there is insufficient supply due to calamities and disease infestation.

Gracilaria sp. and Kappaphycus alvarezii will be the main species to be cultured by the laboratory. This is due to the high viability of these species under Aurora’s condition as shown in initial experiments conducted by BFAR Region 3. In addition, K. alvarezii can be beneficial to the mariculture park as it can be used as food for abalone.

The BFAR laboratory can produce 114,000 planting materials annually. Initially, it will be distributed for free to 200 seaweed farmers in the province at 500 kg per farmer as starting stock.

P10-million fishcage project

Hundreds of small fishermen in Casiguran will benefit from the P10-million fishcage project in the Casiguran Mariculture Park which is initiated by BFAR RO3.

The project aims to improve the productivity of the milkfish industry in Aurora by establishing environment-friendly production technologies, strengthening the technical capabilities of marine finfish culture technologies for the identified family beneficiaries, and to generate income for the local fisherfolk as they will be encouraged to cater to small owner-operated enterprises.

A total of 32 cages will be installed by BFAR at the Casiguran Mariculture Park and these were awarded to the beneficiaries identified by the LGU of Casiguran and APECO. Last February 18, Secretary Alcala led the ceremonial stocking of milkfish fingerlings as well as the turnover of the initial batch of fishcages to the beneficiaries.

The cages have features designed by Secretary Alcala, thus called Alcala fishcage model. Here, milkfish and sea cucumber will be raised at the same time. Milkfish will be raised on the top cage while sea cucumber will be at the bottom, where they will serve as “biofilters” or eaters of surplus feeds and wastes of milkfish.

The estimated cost for one-unit fishcage is approximately P200,000. Each cage is estimated to produce at least 4,000 kg every three months. At a current price of P90 per kg of milkfish in Casiguran, beneficiaries will gross P360,000 per cage.

Secretary Alcala made sure that small fishermen will directly benefit from the fishcage livelihood project so that their economic conditions will also improve. Part of the project is the provision of hands-on training on milkfish cage culture including the operation and maintenance of the project.

The DA chief urged the fishermen to form a cooperative for them to have access to other services and benefits provided by other agencies. “We will train them to stock and harvest bangus on a rotation basis, at least every two weeks, so that they will have steady income year round,” Sec. Alcala said.

BFAR Director Malcolm Sarmiento said that BFAR will put up a mini ice plant with a capacity of three tons to provide the ice requirements of the harvested milkfish during transports to markets. A refrigerated truck courtesy of the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization will also be provided by DA.

Updates on Mariculture Parks

BFAR Assistant Director Gil Adora said during a recent discussion organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) that mariculture development has completely overturned and transformed the usual approach to fishing as an occupation for coastal communities at it has become their alternative source of income.

The concept of mariculture park, according to Adora, is the rationalization of marine resources so that marine production should be sustainable. He said that the basic principle is to transform and change the current practices of fisherfolk into a set of more efficient and effective practices in attaining their food security needs and income.

Adora said that mariculture parks promote sea farming as a major livelihood of coastal fishermen, accelerate socio-economic growth and food security, provide appropriate structure, equipment and services to operate cost-effectively, develop skilled and technically-capable fisherfolk to support the industry, and stimulate a favorable investment climate for the mariculture industry and its ancillary services.

Under the scheme, the government regulates the number and sizes of cages and other structures used in the culture of the recommended species. This way, stocking densities can be regulated based on the capacity of the area.

Adora reported that as of February 2011, there were 51 established mariculture parks covering 49,553.57 hectaes all over the country, and there are 11 more to be launched which will cover a total of 876.45 hectares.

The existing mariculture parks have 5,000 cages installed, with the private sector having the highest number of cages with 4,335 followed by BFAR with 575, and the LGUs with 90 cages installed.

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