THE National Integrated Fisheries Technology Research and Development Center (NIFTDC) based in Dagupan City will spearhead a new national program and study to enhance the production of oysters and mussels in a bid to make the Philippines self-sufficient in these kinds of shellfishes and ultimately an exporter of these commodities.
BFAR Director Asis Perez approved the study, noting that NIFTDC has a book on oyster and mussel culture production, the only one in the country, developed here in 1985 by the Sea farming Research and Development Department (SRDD) of the Philippine Human Resource and Development Center (PHRDC).
The SRDD is the forerunner of the present NIFTDC, a research center of the BFAR located in Barangay Binloc, Dagupan City.
Dr. Westly Rosario, NIFTDC chief, said the program, which will take two years to implement, will train technicians to be deployed in various parts of the country to transfer the technology on how to grow oysters and mussels in the coastal areas to fish farmers.
It will also review the studies made on the coastal areas that were earlier pinpointed as conducive for the growing of oysters and mussels.
The growing of oysters and mussels in the country is considered presently only as a backyard type of industry except for a lone mussel commercial farm in Cavite, but whose production is affected now due to the continuing depreciation of the quality of water in that area.
Rosario said the objective is to organize cooperatives among backyard shellfish growers, so that together, they can meet the demand for the expected volume of products by exporters.
There is a big demand for shellfishes, particularly mussels abroad, especially in China where some of its people consider the green mussels as medicinal and an aphrodisiac.
Asked if intensified oyster and mussel culture is feasible in areas whose coastal water was affected by red tide such as in Western Pangasinan, Rosario said these areas are included in the program but will just have to live with it (red tide) and will refrain from harvesting shellfishes when a red tide alert is up.
This, Rosario said was also the same recommendation given by scientists in an international forum he attended in Taiwan where he presented in a paper the problem posed by red ride during hot weather condition in some coastal areas in the Philippines.
He said a training program for technicians and farmers will also teach them how to detect through visual examination if the coastal water was already affected by red tide without submitting the water and shellfish samples for laboratory analysis which often takes time.
In the export market, a kilo of dried green mussels sells for P4,000, same as the price of one kilo of dried sea cucumber now being exported by the country abroad.
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