Green light for second phase of milkfish cage project for Guimaras

On the heels of the successful first phase of the milkfish cage culture project for Guimaras communities affected by the 2006 oil spill, stakeholders are giving the project an extended run.

The second phase of the Mariculture livelihood program for Guimaras fisherfolk will still focus on the rearing of milkfish in sea cages but will involve fisherfolk who were not accommodated in the first phase. It is a collaboration among SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department (AQD), Petron Foundation Inc, Citi Foundation, local government units (LGUs) in Guimaras, and the organized communities.

The project calls for AQD to provide technical support and transfer science-based technologies in milkfish cage rearing under its banner project on Institutional capacity development for sustainable aquaculture or ICDSA.

On their part, Petron and Citi will provide funding support (US$ 50,000), with the LGUs providing legislative and other logistical support.

Consultation with stakeholders, environmental monitoring

clip_image002Prior to implementation, a consultation was held on April 15, 2009 in the barangays of Igang, Magamay, San Antonio and Sto. Domingo in Nueva Valencia, Guimaras. This was attended by project implementers, barangays officials, representatives from people’s organizations, and Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (BFARMCs). The consultation provided a venue for those involved in the project to look back at their experiences in implementing the first phase and gauge the effectiveness and progress of previously conducted training sessions. Moreover, selection of a suitable site, upcoming activities for the second phase of the project, and other concerns were also discussed.

Knowing full well the importance of a sound environment on the success of the project, a rapid ocular site assessment was also conducted at the four barangays. Stakeholders were oriented on forthcoming monitoring activities to be conducted on their specific cage areas. As part of environmental monitoring activities, some beneficiaries have agreed to assist in collecting water and soil samples. AQD will then assess these and recommend the necessary steps to follow pending the results.

Official launching

The Season-long training course on milkfish cage culture (phase 2) was officially launched on April 23, 2008 in Brgy.DSC03087 San Antonio, Nueva Valencia, Guimaras with a short program and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Present during the ceremony were staff from AQD, officers from Petron Foundation, representatives from the communities, including graduates from the phase 1 training sessions. During the program, Brgy. San Antonio Chair, Mr. Danilo Tagulalap expressed his gratitude to Petron and SEAFDEC for the project. He was also hopeful that the skills and experiences learned during the first phase of the project can be applied in the second phase.

For his part, Mr. Allan Victorino, project officer of Petron Foundation, noted the abundance and potential of the natural resources in the community. The challenge, he said, is how to sustain and improve the project, and Petron Foundation will be the bridge to the affected communities’ progress.

“Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime,” was an old adage brought up by Ms. Carmen Pedrosa, project director of Petron Foundation, who praised the communities for turning a crisis that was the oil spill into an opportunity. She also conveyed that for the second phase of the project to be a success, it is important to educate the stakeholders and foster interconnectivity between the communities.

AQD’s training and information division head, Mr. Renato Agbayani, came bearing good news: the PhP267,855 income from the first phase of the project will be turned over to the beneficiaries and divided accordingly to be used as initial funding for their livelihood projects. For the second phase, one cage measuring 10 x 10 x 6 m will be used to stock the milkfish in Brgy. San Antonio. The other barangays will utilize the cages situated at AQD’s Igang Marine Station. The cost of feeds, fingerlings, and training will be shouldered by the project, valued at PhP474,000 (or around US$10,000, US$1 = PhP47.00).

First training session

clip_image002[6]The slated season-long course started with a Post-harvest and marketing module which kicked off May 21-22, 2009. The module was attended by 32 participants (13 males, 19 females) and was held in Bgy. San Antonio. The attendees learned the techniques in how to prevent harvest losses due to spoilage and how to keep their harvest fresh for consumers. In addition to proper handling and icing, lecturers from the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) also taught value-addition by deboning and marinating milkfish. Three flavors were tried by trainees: adobo or a vinegar-soy sauce-peppercorn marinate; hamonado or spicy sweetened soy sauce marinate; and lamayo or salted and partially dried milkfish. The trainees were also given advice on how to market their products.

The next training modules will focus on aquaculture production systems; stock sampling, feeding and cage maintenance; fish health management, business planning, financial analysis and cooperative development and management. These are scheduled to be held within the year.

Big shoes to fill

The second phase of the project has big shoes to fill. After the first phase, more than 9 tons of milkfish ­­– each weighing about half a kilo – were harvested after seven months of culture from three cages situated at AQD’s Igang Marine Station. The same success can thus be achieved the second time around with the cooperation of all players involved.

AQD’s ICDSA project was launched in 2006 to hasten the transfer to and adoption by villagers of appropriate technologies that would enhance the productivity of aquatic resources, and at the same time, safeguard the fragile balance of aquatic ecology. The three main activities include the conduct of season-long training courses, technology demonstration, and research.

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