In­te­grat­ing squid pot in sea­weed farm­ing

The Philippine Star - - AGRICULTURE -

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.

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