Milkfish (Bangus) Floating Cage Culture Project in Dauis, Bohol. Philippines by Edmundo Enderez – March 31, 2011 I.

Introduction

1. The program on Community-based coastal resource management (CB-CRM) is being implemented in order to develop the capacity of the coastal and fishing communities in resource management and income diversification. In Bohol, the marine fish catch showed declining trend (see Graph below) despite the implementation of CRM program by different stakeholders. Intrusion of commercial fishing boats into the municipal waters of Bohol exacerbates overfishing and the use of illegal methods of fishing that degrade the marine fisheries habitat continues to be a problem. This is attributed to the big demand for fish and other aquatic products. However, the lack of understanding on overfishing due to too much fishing pressure and reduction in the fish carrying capacity of the sea due to fisheries habitat degradation, which reinforce each other, has led the fishers to catch fish indiscriminately for as long as they make profits. The end result is that the present fish stock biomass is at much lower level which can only reproduce so much fish population and the present capacity of the sea can only carry not much total fish volume.

Source of data: BAS

2. The Map above shows that poverty incidence in Bohol is relatively high. Aside from the increasing demand for fish, it is the lack of employment other than fishing that forced poor fishers to catch fish indiscriminately. 3. In order to meet the increasing demand for fish and alleviate the poverty of the fisherfolk, there is really a need to let a significant number of fishers shift to non-fishing economic activities. Just what like China and Vietnam are doing, the Philippines through its Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is earnest in developing the mariculture industry. The brackishwater fishpond industry which

provides the bulk of the production of cultured fish (mainly bangus) is being limited by the ban on mangrove conversion into fishponds. This is particularly true in Bohol as shown in the Graph below that milkfish production in brackishwater ponds has leveled off or there is very little annual increase.

5. In Barangay Songculan, Dauis, Bohol, SOGUFA was formed to engage in CBCRM and livelihood development with the assistance of PROCESS-Bohol, Foundation for Philippine Environment-Bohol Marine Triangle (FPE-BMT), and then the PADAYON-BMT. SOGUFA members under the leadership of its Chairman, Juanito Obispo, started with seaweed culture project in a portion of the municipal water fronting their Barangay. Due to poor production in their seaweed culture project for several reasons, they finally decided to venture into the bangus floating cage culture project. II. SOGUFA bangus floating cage culture project

1. The floating cages are installed in an area about 150 meters away from shoreline and at depth of not less than 5 meters during lowest tide. There are 2 tourist resort establishments along the beach near the project site. Due to misunderstanding on the official use of the nearshore water and the mistaken belief of resort owners that the project is a source of water pollution, a conflict arose between SOGUFA and resort owners. The case was brought to the attention of the LGU which settled the matter after the following actions: SOGUFA chairman explained how feeding is done to prevent feed waste and the process that prevents accumulation of fish wastes at the sea bottom and SOGUFA agreed to dismantle the fixed caretaker’s hut and provide navigational lane for the resort boats.

2. The location of the project site (near Tagbilaran City) and and the source of bangus fingerlings (Calape which is more or less 40 kms away) are shown in the Map below.

3. In the last quarter of 2005, the SOGUFA members operated a demo-size bangus floating cage culture project as shown in the picture below. Through the FPE-commissioned technician/consultant who is the writer of this paper, the demo project had provided the SOGUFA members with a “practical crash course” on bangus floating cage culture technology adoption: site selection, construction of a

4m x 2.5m x 2m cage, purchase and transport of fingerlings from BFAR farm in Calape, acclimatization, stocking at density of 20 pcs/cu.m. of 4-6-inch size bangus, feeding at the amount based on total biomass multiplied by feeding rate based on ABW, maintenance of cage structures particularly the net which needs regular cleaning or change for sanitation, growth rate and duration of culture period.

4. After developing SOGUFA’s capability and capacity on managing said project, it decided to make project expansion as shown in the pictures below. Key technical and financial data are also presented below.

a. The first commercial operation of SOGUFA project was started in Sept 2006 utilizing a cage measuring 12 x 5 x 2.5 with financial assistance from Provincial Agricultural Office of Bohol under the SMILE program. In Nov 2006, additional cage

with same measurement was operated through the support of DOLE for P60,000 as Grant and BANGON for P90,000 as Loan. After few years of operation, SOGUFA was able to generate income. Additional cages were installed until these reached to about 10-12 units.

b. As part of strengthening the organization, policies were formulated and members were encouraged to follow the schedule of assigned activities and duties.
c. The income sharing scheme of SOGUFA is that the net income (after deducting all the operating costs including the depreciation cost of the cages) is divided among the members based on the length of time they provided during project operation. d. Present situation of the project: a) early February 2011, harvest was done in 2 cages, b) 2 cages are due for harvest after 2 months, c) 2 cages are due for harvest after 1 month, and d) 4 cages were not operated for lack of supply of fingerlings and the members assigned to them had migrated abroad for “greener pasture.” e. From 2000 to 2007, Population in Bohol increased by 8.2% while marine fish catch decreased by 41.3% or from 26,500 m.t. to 15,500 m.t.(see Graph below). Due to the decreasing supply of fish while the population is increasing, fish price increased dramatically. In fact, the ex-farm price of bangus has increased from P80/kg in 2006 to P95/kg in 2011 as against the market price of P100 to P130/kg, respectively. f. Bohol is listed as one of more than 10 provinces with the highest poverty incidence. Due to this, there is significant level of out-migration. The disadvantage of out-migration, particularly coming from fishing communities, by people who have

been trained and engaged in coastal resource management is that there is a gradual decrease in the number of people who protect coastal and fisheries resources. This situation may reduce the level of intervention in protecting Bohol marine water biodiversity. It must be noted that Bohol marine water has the highest biodiversity. g. The factor that ensured the continuity and expansion of the project is the presence of the SOGUFA chairman who has the right attitude (drive, good instinct, energy, and dedication) in fulfilling the objectives of the organization and project and who possesses the traits of being naturally meticulous and system-oriented which was further developed during the time when he worked as an electronic technician and appropriately applied in the operation on the present project. Failure of similar projects in Bohol and elsewhere in the Philippines is usually due to the lack of said attitude and traits. But there is a need to make the project as participatory as possible which can only be done through the assistance and facilitation of a partner NGO. h. Aside from his task as the direct supervisor of the cage culture project, the SOGUFA chairman has joined membership as MFARMC Chairman in the municipality of Dauis and member of the PADAYON-BMT Board or Management Council, among others. III. Analysis and Recommendations

1. The sufficiency and security on fish as the basic food of the Filipino people, particularly in Bohol can only be ensured not anymore from fishing and traditional brackishwater fishponds but from fish culture activities and projects in the lakes, rivers, and the sea. Since food security is the main responsibility of the government, the LGUs/LGAs should provide assistance, incentives and encouragement to those community organizations which are successful in mariculture projects. 2. The culture of bangus in marine fish cage is more profitable than when it is cultured in pen. This is the reason for the unprecedented accelerated increase in the annual volume of production of bangus cultured in cages. But what hinders the possible expansion of bangus floating cage culture projects is the seasonal occurrence of limited supply of fingerlings whose main source in Bohol is from the BFAR Farm in Calape. This problem should be anticipated by those who are going to invest in this type of project. There is a need to study the existing and future demand for bangus fry and fingerlings in Bohol as well as the existing supply of same as far as BFAR Calape Farm is concerned so that whatever is the gap can be properly acted upon by BFAR and other concerned government agencies and entities. 3. SOGUFA is planning for project area expansion but it has limited capital. Through its Chairman, it is trying to tap the FPE for possible source of loan-fund for the said plan. On the other hand, it may undertake joint venture with the LGU and any conduit bank of the government like the LBP and DBP. Aside from said partnership, the public and private partnership program of the Aquino administration should cover this type of project. In this way, areas where this type

of project had been evaluated as technically feasible and financially viable but where said projects had been established but failed due to lack of technical personnel who have the right attitude and technical traits can be made productive and profitable and generate economic pre- and post-harvest activities therein.

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