Aquaculture for all

Regional Training Center in Samar showcases polyculture

THE PHILIPPINES - The Regional Fisheries Training Centre at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Samar State University (SSU) is maintaining a polyculture pond teeming with bangus, tilapia and mudcrabs.

Located at the College of Fisheries Campus in Barangay Mercedes, Catbalogan City, it aims to demonstrate that polyculture could be equated with the multi-cropping systems that are carried out in farm agriculture.

BFAR says that polyculture is a method to intensify fish culture without an input of expensive feed. With this system, the natural food produced in the culture environment is utilised to a greater extent through compatible or complementary feeding habits of fish which do not compete with each other.

Yields obtained by polyculture are usually much higher than those obtained by monoculture, especially if the right species have been chosen, says the Bureau.

Centre Director Teddy Amparado recently showed PIA the Brackish Water Aquaculture Development Project inside the SSU Campus.

Criss-crossed by bamboo bridges, the farm is shored-up in a 3,000 square metre pond. It houses some 2,500 mudcrabs (Scylla serrata), 5,000 bangus (Chanos chanos) and 3,000 tilapia (saline).

The bamboo bridges facilitate feeding and harvesting, and for the fishponds to flourish, every care is taken to ensure that they have some 94 per cent survival rate.

The ponds were harvested in April 2007.


Mudcrabs, said BFAR experts, have to move freely and establish their own territory so that a certain density has to be observed. Each crab should have some 1.5 meters to consider its home for 'wars' to be avoided.

A monthly sampling for weight check have to be carried out. Not only weight, body length and even the average weight and length have to be recorded for analysis. As crablets, the stock weighed an average of 18 grams. The latest weighing sample, done in July, showed they have grown some 6,685 grams.

This could be the reason why fishpond owners do not like to follow the scientific way said Mr Clutilde. "The maintenance is too tedious. There is a computation of area, feeds and monthly monitoring of growth such that most pond owners ignore — result is that they close shop because they lose," he added.

"BFAR always emphasise scientific method," said Mr Ronnie Berida of the Bureau. BFAR insists they have the expertise and is only waiting for fish farmers to tap into it.


As to the bangus, most have been harvested, although a thousand have been retained for a training course on deboning.

"The training centre not only serves as a demonstration farm; it also has an impact on the community," said Berida.

And deboning bangus could help fish processors in this thriving fishery city in Samar. While the region boasts the very rich Maqueda Bay fishing area, studies show that the tonnage of fish caught has greatly diminished through the years.

The focus could be shifted to cultured fish, like bangus, and this could open up employment opportunities for women in the area. Consumers today are so busy, that they would rather purchase processed goods for convenience. Deboned and marinated bangus could be a very useful product.


Tilapia completes the fish species in the polyculture pond.

As gleaned from the BFAR literature on polyculture, other benefits gained by the system are the improved ecological conditions within a pond. It has been found that Tilapia aurea in a polyculture system improves the oxygen balance by feeding on detritus, which would otherwise decompose and take up oxygen.

For those interested in managing a fishpond through polyculture, Ronnie Berida and Teddy Amparado are very accommodating. They just hope that those investing in the system will follow the science-based methods of production used at BFAR, so that their expected end results will be achieved.