Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Aquaculture and Fisheries

MANILA (PNA) - The Philippines is an active member of five regional
initiatives on fisheries and aquaculture cooperation including a
project establishing partnership with Southeast Asia Fisheries
Development Center (SEAFDEC) that led to several projects contributing
to sustainability of marine resources in the region.

This is in line with the State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) vow of
President Arroyo to energize the agriculture and fisheries sector.

Philippine agriculture grew by a high 4.7 percent in six months to
June as against 3.74 percent in the same period in 2007 as government
stepped up farm spending in keeping with the Presidentâ•˙s
agriculture-related SONA thrusts.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Arthur Yap said the Arroyo
governmentâ•˙s initiatives on aquaculture and fisheries cooperation also
include Identification and Control of Food Safety Hazards in the
Production of Fish and Fisheries Products in the ASEAN (Association of
Southeast Asian Nations) Region for health certification and
Quarantine Measures for the Responsible Movement of Live Food Fish.

He said the Philippines has been a lead participant in establishing
the ASEAN Shrimp Alliance to enhance the regionâ•˙s capability to
respond to challenges of international trade in shrimp and shrimp
products.

The country likewise participated in setting up ASEAN Network on
Aquatic Animal Health Centers as a tool to facilitate diagnostic and
certification capabilities in ASEAN member-countries critical for
exporting live aquatic animals, he continued.

╲We were also the lead country in completion of the ASEAN-SEAFDEC
project on the Promotion of Mangrove-Friendly Aquaculture in Southeast
Asia and have contributed to the preparation of the Regional Plan of
Action to Promote Responsible Fishing Practices,╡ said Yap in a speech
read for him by Director Gil Adora of the Bureau of Fisheries and
Aquatic Resources (BFAR) during a recent forum hosted by the
University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna.

The Iloilo-based Aquaculture Department of SEAFDEC is headed by Dr.
Joebert Toledo.

In Southeast Asia, some 38 million people directly engage in fisheries
for their livelihood and half a billion people depend on fishery
products for food and protein intake.

With remarkable advances in technology for fishing, processing and
aquaculture as well as in quality control and hygiene management, the
region became one of the world's major suppliers of marine products,
Yap said.

╲However, fishery resources across Southeast Asia and the rest of
Asia-Pacific are increasingly under pressure while many people -
mostly the most marginalized - depend on these resources for
subsistence survival and small basic incomes,╡ he said.

Adora said this is the reason close cooperation among Southeast Asian
countries is necessary to guarantee sustainability of fishery
resources in the region.

SEAFDEC, the Philippines through BFAR headed by Malcolm Sarmiento Jr.
and seven other Asian countries have started tagging five species like
galunggong and hasa-hasa in the South China Sea and Andaman Seas under
a three-year collaborative research on the migration patterns of small
pelagic fishes in these waters, Adora said.

Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia (Peninsula,
Sabah and Sarawak), Vietnam and Myanmar are the other country-partners
in this project.

Also, BFAR and SEAFDEC are strictly monitoring entry and culture of
Peneaus vannamei or Pacific white shrimp broodstocks as part of the
countryâ•˙s efforts to double shrimp production to over 100,000 metric
tons (MT) in five years so it can regain its previous status as one of
the worldâ•˙s top shrimp producers.

DA last year lifted the ban on importation and culture of Vannamei
shrimps.

Toledo said consensus was reached during a recent national gathering
of shrimp growers that three factors are essential to boosting shrimp
production.

These are culture of specific-pathogen free or specific-pathogen
resistant broodstock and high-health fry; use of probiotics,
bio-security measures and other best management practices as well as
marketing the right size of shrimps demanded by consumers plus
compliance with food safety regulations.

As for BFARâ•˙s fish tagging project with SEAFDEC and seven Asian
countries, Sarmiento said it involves inserting special number-coded
yellow tags at the base of the dorsal fins of individual fishes.

The fishes are then released back into the sea and their tags are
expected to be returned to the nearest fishery agency by fishermen who
catch these.

Sarmiento said this project is designed to let researchers determine
migratory path of these species.

This will lead to development of a regional management plan for
sustainability of small pelagic fisheries in the region.

Citing 2005 data from United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization, Yap said fisheries production of the top four Southeast
Asian nations â•" Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand â•"
amounted to 15 million MT.

Indonesia was the top producer (6.5 million tons of the 2005 output)
followed by the Philippines (4.1 million tons), Thailand (3.7 million
tons) and Vietnam (3.4 million MT).

As part of President Arroyoâ•˙s SONA commitments, government so far
established 33 mariculture parks and 134 fish sanctuaries while
turning over 415 post-harvest equipment to fisherfolk.

Among these new mariculture parks is the one in Sibutu East and North
Lagoon, Sitangkai in Tawi-Tawi province.

This ws established to fulfill the Chief Executiveâ•˙s 2007 SONA promise
promise to people there. (PNA)

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