By Marie Tonette Marticio

TACLOBAN City – As the country faces the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, several measures are being undertaken to ensure that most of the basic needs of the nation are supplied and every Filipino household is food sufficient while staying at home in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-8) is continuously seeking and implementing interventions to facilitate the stable supply of fishery commodities such as the implementation of an intensive tilapia culture in tanks and ponds in Eastern Visayas.

BFAR-8 Regional Director Juan Albaladejo, said tilapia has been known as one of the most basic and readily available fishery commodities in the country. Not only does it boast a flavorful taste and can be cooked into several delectable dishes, but it is also easy to produce that is why some fisherfolks have opted to culture the species in their own backyard ponds.

“These ponds are great sources of income and food supply to these fisherfolks and for the millions of Filipino consumers. However, due to the devastations of several typhoons from recent times, these ponds and other tilapia farms were hit severely, thus, rendering the low farm production and limited supply of Tilapia that our public markets are currently experiencing,” he shared.

He added that intensive tilapia culture hopes to revive the steady flow of fish supply in the market and provide a solution to the food security dilemma of the country.

“Unlike the normal Tilapia farm production techniques, this technology offers numerous advantages, one of which is the improved growth of the species through the introduction of a life-support system in its environment,” he noted.

He said the system enhances the water quality in the tanks and ponds through aeration and frequent water exchange which renewed dissolved oxygen supplies while also removing wastes in the setting.

“The system has an initial high stocking density that can produce high yields in a small parcel of land or small tank areas. Most importantly, the technology is a low-cost venture with an easy and convenient step-by-step procedure that any fisherfolk or individual who is interested in Tilapia culture could do at the comfort of their own backyards,” the official explained.

Albaladejo noted that polyculture or the simultaneous cultivation of several animals in the same space is also one of the wonders of intensive tilapia farming.

“Freshwater species such as the Macrobrachium rosenbergii or more commonly known as the giant freshwater prawn, as well as giant gourami can also be cultivated in this setting. Other brackish water fish species such as the pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei), mangrove crabs, and siganids can be cultured in ponds using this technique,” he said.

He added that the method enhances the efficiency and productivity of the ponds, thus, bringing profitable returns to our fisherfolk farmers.

Albaladejo disclosed that the project is being tested in technology stations and Provincial Fishery Offices in the region to produce optimum results for the benefit of the fisherfolks.

Once the project has passed the techno-demo phase, a projected 75 fisherfolk all over the six provinces of the region will benefit from said livelihood intervention.

“BFAR8 believes that through its combined technical competence and future inputs gathered through further testing and analysis, the technology can be adopted and cascaded down to our fisherfolk frontliners, equipping them with the means to provide sustainable food for our country,” he ended.