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Mussel Project Blooms in Philippines

by Ellen Hardy
26 September 2008, at 1:00am

PHILIPPINES - The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Jiabong LGU partnered in a new project to enhance mussel farming which recently met difficulties due to pollution and siltation.

Jiabong Mayor Chanita Gabieta in her speech admitted the loss of income for those dependent on mussels.

She said she welcomed the new technology offered by BFAR's Regional Director John Albeladejo and his provincial counterpart Rolando Ay-ay.

She added that she also spearheaded the coastal clean up of some 67 hectares of mussel areas and the team has collected some 37 trucks of pollutants.

Fishery experts said that while before they used to deliver 20 tons of mussels daily, production these days have been down to almost zero.

The same situation is happening in Tarangnan, Villareal and in Catbalogan City.

Based on facts provided by BFAR, the commercial cultivation of this species started in 1975 when BFAR conducted technology demonstrations on various mussel culture methods.

However, a few months ago, a phenomenon created a coastal dead zone in Maqueda Bay.

Lack of existing regulation on the proper farm establishments resulted on unsustainable practices such as placing the stakes too close to each other which generally impeded water circulation, in turn, negatively affecting dissolved oxygen concentrations in the water column.

Crowded staking also accelerated the deposition of decaying organic matter in the sediments.

Also the common practice of leaving the old bamboo stakes in the area after harvest added to the organic loading in the mussel areas.

All these factors plus the run-off from land areas surrounding the bay contributed to the rapid deterioration of water quality at Maqueda Bay.

So that BFAR 8 proposed to shift from staking to raft method.

John Meniano, a fishery expert said that the raft method will be placed side by side with the staking method for mussel farmers to discover the difference in yield and effect to the environment.

BFAR RD Albaladejo said BFAr will provide the farm inputs but will make beneficiaries pay to be rolled over to other mussel farmers.

Each barangay of the 12 baranagsy engaged in mussel farming in Jiabong will be given an allocation of three 'modules' or techno demo farm.

In a wider scope, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Samar President Melchor Nacario suggested to re organize the Samar Sea and Maqueda Bay Development Council to be able to address concerns on the dwindling marine resources of Maqueda Bay.

Ellen Hardy