Integrating squid pot in seaweed farming
The oceans need rebuilding. Climate change is no longer just the only threat being faced by the fisheries sector. The constant overexploitation of aquatic resources in our local seas has posed serious consequences to biodiversity.
There is a need for the agriculture sector to develop sustainable practices that consider the limits of what the ecosystems can provide.
To address overfishing, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) schedules fishing bans that prohibit the catching of fish for a short period of time.
Another intervention is the introduction of sustainable aquaculture. BFAR, together with local government units, continuously encourage coastal communities to integrate aquaculture by presenting it as a source of additional income to household.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States define
aquaculture as “– the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments.
In the Philippines, widespread practice of aquaculture has made the seaweed the second most exported fishery resource, with almost 40,000 metric tons of seaweed exported in 2016.
The introduction of aquaculture practices like seaweed farming has been a key factor in lessening the cases of illegal and destructive fishing activities such as the use of dynamite and cyanide, done in coastal communities. By opting to farm seaweeds, marine life flourishes as the seaweeds become the breeding ground for marine life.
According to a study conducted by the International Center for Marine Resource Development at the University of Rhode Island, seaweed farming is a good option for fisherfolks thinking of shifting from fishing to aquaculture.
Seaweed is easy to cultivate, requires low initial capital investment, and provides a rapid and high return on investment.
Despite the profitability of seaweed farming, most fishing households in the Philippines do not rely mainly on the practice. This is mainly because seaweed profitability is largely dependent on market prices. The price of seaweeds ranges from P25-60 per kilo depending on the quality and the time of the year it was harvested.
The price of seaweeds begins to increase from August to December as the volume of production decreases because of stronger winds hitting coastal communities brought about by the northeast monsoon.
Seeing that seaweed farming is only a supplemental source of income in fishing households, the Bicol University Tabaco Campus proposed a research project implemented in one of the small island municipalities of Southern Luzon.
The research sought to integrate another aquaculture practice that could augment the income earned by seaweed farmers through squid pot fishing.
A squid pot is a container device usually cylindrical in shape, designed to catch squid in coastal waters. The device is hung on a bamboo buoy and submerged halfway to the bottom of the surface where squid can be baited with a coconut branch or a fruit stalk wherein squid can lay their eggs.
Ideally, squid pot is installed in areas with dense concentrations of sea grass. For the project, squid pots are placed beneath the cultivation lines of seaweeds. Once a day, the squid pots are pulled above the surface where the squid is harvested except for its eggs which have yet to hatch underwater.
Fisherfolks can harvest around 2.5-45 kilograms of squid daily, which are sold at around P150 per kilo.
The project, funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research, generated the data from two coastal communities in the island of Batan, RapuRapu, Albay, around 200 miles southeast of Metro Manila.
Income was compared between fishing households who do seaweed farming only, squid pot fishing only, and those who integrate both practices as their source of livelihood.
By integrating squid pot fishing into seaweed farming, coastal communities can augment their income as well as develop resiliency when typhoons get blown over to their area, which is very common to the coastlines of the Bicol region, said Plutomeo Nieves, the project’s proponent.