BFAR urges Taal fisherfolk to be responsible fish farmers in order to prevent fish kills

A March 9, 2012 press release from the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources

The Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) urges all fish cage farmers in Taal Lake to undertake the necessary measures in preparation for fish kills as the summer season begins.

BFAR Director Atty. Asis G. Perez told 900 fisherfolk that attended the Taal Lake Fisheries Stakeholders Forum yesterday to do early harvesting should there be signs of possible lake overturn, sulfur upwelling, lowering of dissolved oxygen, and possible fish parasite infestation.

“These naturally occurring phenomena are usually affected by temperature changes especially in the warm months of April to June and during the rainy months, when typhoons occur,” Perez said.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso G. Alcala had instructed all heads of his department to be more proactive in addressing the impacts of climate change to agriculture and fisheries commodities. He said that the present administration puts high priority on the need to provide enough food for the growing population and to protect the livelihoods and incomes of small farmers and fishermen.

Perez appealed to the more than 700 members of the Taal Lake Aquaculture Alliance, Inc. present during the forum and feed millers to police their ranks and to comply with all the guidelines embodied in the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape Management Plan of 2009.

“Fish farming should be done in a manner that should not compromise the health of the lake’s waters. Overcrowding of fish cages, overfeeding, and willful disregard to the prescribed fish cage size have been found as major causes of serious oxygen depletion resulting to fish kills.”

Last year, fish kills in Taal Lake occurred from May to June and affected more than 2,000 tons of farmed fish, with damages pegged at P148.5M. Over 7,000 illegally operated fish cages were also dismantled by a multi-government task force in compliance with the environmental limit determined by scientific studies of only 6,000 fish cages in the entire lake.

BFAR has lined up various strategies to reduce, if not prevent, fish kill incidences in the area. These measures include heightening of its campaign toward responsible fish farming; the provision of technical and regulatory support to municipal governments in realigning and/or zonification of fish cages; and the regular water quality monitoring, among others.

“We will hire additional manpower and deploy at least two units of our patrol boats in the area to assist in determining the compliance of fish cage operators to the Management Plan. Of importance are the prescribed limits for fish cages sizes of 10 m × 10 m × 6 m, stocking densities, and feeding regimen,” he said.

The agency will also put in place early harvesting advisories in strategic areas. In addition, the fish farmers will be provided access to postharvest facilities in the nearby Lucena Fish Port to lengthen the keeping quality of the fish if oversupply from simultaneous harvesting would occur.

“Similarly, a budget of P2M will be set aside for the conversion of dead and/or decomposing fish into fish fertilizer using enzymatic processes,” he added.

Perez instructed BFAR-4A Director Esmeralda Paz D. Manalang to arrange a meeting with all feed millers to determine appropriate feed types and feeding regimen, alongside the creation of a technical working group to look into the matter.

Taal Lake provides fish, mostly farmed tilapia and some bangus, to as many as 1.6 million residents of the National Capital Region, whereas catch from its open waters feeds around 200,000 people at an annual per capita of 39 kilos.

Last month, the Supreme Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan to the Protected Area Management Board of the Taal Lake Protected Landscape, stopping the issuance of new clearances for fish cages in Taal Lake.

da.gov.ph

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