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05 May 2012

BFAR to establish aquaculture park in Magat Dam

The Magat dam in Luzon Philippines
The Fisheries Bureau in Region 2 is eyeing the establishment of an aquaculture park in Magat Dam as a move to reinvigorate the once flourishing fish cage industry in the area.
Dr. Severina Bueno, extension chief of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources here, said they are currently preparing a proposal to Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Central Office for the establishment of the aquaculture park. The project is one of the items discussed by BFAR Director Asis Perez during his recent visit in Region 02.
The proposal includes funding for preparatory works such as biophysical survey, consultative meeting/s and workshop/s, screening and training of cooperators plus the construction of initial demo units composed of five modules fish cages and ancillary structures such as mooring system, service boat and caretakers hut/storage room.
A module consists of four units of fish cages, with a dimension of 5m x 10m x 4 meters each, plus feeds and stocks.
Although a detailed management plan will still be prepared, Bueno said management will be similar to a mariculture park. “The fish cage modules will be awarded to interested and qualified fisherfolk associations. They have to repay the module after one year of operation, proceeds of which will then be used to construct additional modules,” Buen said. Bueno further said that the Best Cage Practices as recommended by the BFAR National Inland Fisheries Technology Center will be adopted.
Just like in mariculture park, Bueno added that private or individual entrepreneurs will be tapped to invest in the area. Benefits will include free mooring system and technical assistance.
Magat Dam and Reservoir is runs through the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, and Ifugao. It feeds a hydroelectric power plant operated by the SN Aboitiz company. Although it is still the single biggest area for aquaculture operations in Region 2, production from Magat Dam has declined in recent years as fish cage operators have downscaled or totally stopped operations due to successive losses. Production in 2011 is estimated at 347 metric tons from fish cages and wild catch, down from more than a thousand metric tons during its peak a decade ago.
 “Part of the biophysical survey will be the determination of optimal sites such that fish cage operations will not cause adverse effect on the environment, which in turn, will ensure sustainability and maximum profit for locators or investors,” BFAR RO2 Regional Director Jovita Ayson  said.