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Focus Set For Fisheries R&D Until 2016

by 5m Editor
5 August 2011, at 1:00am

PHILIPPINES - The government has identified 12 commodities as the focus of its fisheries research and development (R&D) efforts till 2016 due to their potential as dollar earners and sources of rural livelihood, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) said in a statement over the weekend.

Export revenue from the fishery sector is reaching $700 million-$800 million annually...But its potential is as much as $10 billion, the bureau said, citing the Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 Visioning (A&F 2025) report.

It identified the 12 priority commodities as abalone, grouper, milkfish, mud crab, oyster, pangasius, rabbitfish, sea cucumber, seaweed, shrimp, tilapia and tuna.

A&F 2025, which was drawn up by the Agriculture department and the Congressional Commission on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernisation, indicates that the Philippines can become a global seafood and aquamarine center.

The statement quoted BAR Director Nicomedes P. Eleazar as saying that the government aims to make the fisheries sector a big dollar earner and jobs supplier.

Our research programmes will help establish these hopes and sustain the sector in reaching revenue targets, Mr Eleazar said.

Tuna, one of the countrys top dollar earners which generates an estimated $400 million in annual sales, tops the governments fisheries R&D efforts, the statement read.

Measures involve mapping through geographic information system of migratory patterns of tuna, as well as ways to add value to canned tuna exports.

This particular effort involves a collaboration among the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department and the University of the Philippines-Visayas.

For shrimp, which contributes $70 million to annual fisheries exports, there is a need to come up with Philippine-bred, disease-free broodstock, the statement said further, noting that Thailand exports about one to two billion dollars of this commodity each year.

The Philippines currently imports disease-free- technically called Specific Pathogen Free or Specific Pathogen Resistant- broodstock of Black Tiger Shrimp.

The seaweed industry also needs new technologies, BAR said.

Seaweeds, exported at [sic] around $130 million mostly in the form of semi-processed carrageenan, require programmes for the development of disease-free species particularly for the food processing-grade cottonii variety, the statement read.

Molecular marker-assisted breeding will be used to develop disease-resistant strains.

The bureau said its other seaweed R&D initiatives include the establishment of a gene bank for the identification of quality seaweed germ plasm and of a stock monitoring system, as well as a study on stock enhancement.

For tilapia, the R&D agenda focuses on the development of low-cost, high-quality and environment-friendly feeds.

While BFARs National Fisheries Research and Development Institute has already developed quality tilapia strains that are saline- and cold temperature-tolerant, there is a need to produce their broodstock and fingerlings.

The production of fry for tilapia, suitable for extreme temperature arising from climate change, is an important concern as much as this is also a concern in other fishery species, the statement read.

Another popular species, milkfish, needs improved hatchery techniques involving broodstock management, nutrition, larval rearing and handling.

Low-cost feed production, mapping of fry sources and proper cage design are priority research areas.

BAR is also embarking on R&D for other products that have yet to be produced in bigger quantities.

Efforts for the abalone, mud crab, rabbitfish and sea cucumber industries include development of a hatchery system, production of quality broodstock and value-adding technologies. For pangasius, a big export product of Vietnam, the R&D concern is on the production of fingerlings.

There are also efforts to study the potential of and quality control for oyster, as well as genetic fingerprinting for breeding of grouper, BAR said.

5m Editor