Scientists to fish farmers: Convert red tide episodes to opportunities

December 23, 2015 6:25 am 

DAGUPAN CITY, Dec. 22 — Two of the country's top aquaculture scientists admitted there is no solution anymore to the natural phenomenon called red tide and went on to advise people in those areas seasonally affected to just grind and bear it.

However, fish farmers need not be sad as they can in fact convert the red red tide occurrences into opportunities, said Wilfredo Yap of Misamis Occidental, executive director of Santeh Aquaculture Science and Technology Foundation, Inc.

Yap said the red tide episode usually lasts for two months and by the time red tide alert is gone, the shellfishes such as mussels and oysters shall have been bigger and cost higher when sold in the market.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), said Yap is right when it banned the collection/harvesting as well as marketing and consumption of shellfishes every time a red tide alert is up.

This is because consumption of shellfishes taken from red tide-affected areas poses great danger to human health, said Yap whose greatest contribution to the country's drive for food sufficiency was the Introduction of Mariculture Park for Sustainable Aquaculture in the Sea.

He said a few years ago, a Korean company established a canning factory for mussels and oysters in Mindanao.

When the company's chief executive officer was asked why they are putting up the project despite their knowledge of the prevalence of red tide in the shores of that area, he answered, "That is not a problem as there is also red tide in Korea".

Meanwhile, Dr. Catalino de la Cruz, an aquaculture engineer from Nueva Ecija, agrees with Yap that there is no solution anymore to frequent occurrences of red tide episodes in the country.

Once an area is hit by red tide, there will be episodes that will be felt every year, especially during the hot months, he said.

But he said that hope is high that the blue mussels found in the rivers of Dagupan, which can grow at a salinity of 2 ppt, could save the mussel industry from drying as a result of the frequent episodes of red tide.

There was no red tide episode that has yet taken place in the waters of Dagupan till today.

The reason for this, De la Cruz said, is that red tide organisms do not thrive in water of lower salinity such as in Dagupan City.

Already affected by red tide for many years now are the waters of Bolinao, Anda, Bani and Alaminos.

Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center (NIFTDC), revealed they are still thoroughly studying the blue mussel.

The blue mussel is a different species of mussel from the usual green-lipped mussels and brown mussels abundant in any shore in the Philippines.

He said with the help of American scientists, the blue mussel was already subjected to DNA test for official identification.

Rosario said if the study is completed, he will bring some blue mussels to Mindanao to boost their current shellfish industry and provide a steady source of livelihood to the people near the shores.

He said in Mindanao, they have a shellfish species which the Pangasinenses call "lukan". But in Mindanao, they call this "tuwag". (PNA)

LAP/LVM/LVMICUA/RMA

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