Two outstanding aquaculturists honored

TWO outstanding aquaculturists, one is a Filipino and the other an American, were honored on Nov. 22 at the Asian Fisheries Academy by the Society of Aquaculture Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. and Philippine Aquaculture Society (PAS) for outstanding leadership and service for the advancement of aquaculture in the country.

Honored were former Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Atty. Malcolm Sarmiento, prime mover and implementor of mariculture parks in the Philippines, and Dr. Michael Rice, initiator of good sanitary quality oyster farming in the Philippines.

Sarmiento’s implementation of a nationwide mariculture park program allowed small, medium and large scale investors to engage in fish farming and produce huge volume of fish without having to cut a single mangrove tree.

Sarmiento who established a nationwide network of hatcheries and nurseries for seaweeds, milkfish, tilapia and other high-value species, also spearheaded the establishment of Marine Protected Areas, and the successful implementation of the Fisheries Resource Management Program, Sustainable Management for Coastal Resources and Regional Fisheries Livelihood Program and the Coral Triangle Initiative.

Meanwhile, Rice, married to an Ilocana, is a professor of fisheries and aquaculture at the University of Rhode Island and former state representative from South Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Rice, a Fulbright distinguished senior specialist fellow of the country who served in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Philippines, was the first person who improved the quality of sanitary farmed oysters in the country. He designed and set up the first commercial scale depuration plant for oysters situated in Barangay Tapuac, Dagupan City.

The Presidential Human Resources Development Office eventually took the depuration idea and received a grant from the Japan International Cooperation Agency to build a research and training facility in Dagupan. The facility that began operations in 1985 is now known as BFAR-National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center in Dagupan.

Sarmiento’s and Rice’s plaques were jointly signed by Dr. Westly Rosario, SAEP president and Dr. Joebert Toledo, PAS president.

The two aquaculturists were made to leave their footprints inside the BFAR Center’s Giant Steps Towards Dynamic Philippine Aquaculture.

They join other awardees for Giant Steps: Dr. Herminio Rabanal as father of Modern Philippine Aquaculture; Pierre Morissens as catalyst of saline tilapia mobicus program, Jose de Venecia Jr. as prime mover of Penaeus vannamei farming in the Philippines, Emilia Quinitio for the eventual commercialization of crab hatchery and nursery technology, Wilfredo Yap for the Mariculture Park System,  Catalino dela Cruz as pioneering expert on aquaculture engineering and integrated agri-aqua farming, Dr. Rafael Guerrero as promoter of all-male tilapia culture in the Philippines, and Maximo Abesamis, pioneer in commercial scale in milkfish farming in sea cages. (PhilStar Wire Service)

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