US prof: Oyster farming can be more profitable

TRAY METHOD PIONEER

AN American university professor, married to a Filipina from Baguio City who was  involved in oyster research in Dagupan in the early 1980s, advised local oyster farmers to innovate their production method by raising their oysters in trays in order to harvest more  and consequently earn more.

Dr. Michael A. Rice, who is teaching fisheries at the University of Rhode Islands in the United States, noted that Dagupan fish farmers are still using the outdated traditional culture method by crowding their oysters in very small spaces in the water.

Rice was honored by the Society of Aquaculture Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. and Philippine Aquaculture Society, Inc. to leave his foot prints at the National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center for his outstanding leadership and devoted service to aquaculture and fisheries in the country.

“Many  years ago, I was experimenting with the tray system (in Dagupan) where oyster farmers might be able to thin up the stocking of oysters. However, the oyster farmers in that age did not like the idea as it will cost them extra money and there is extra work
involved,” Rice said..

The farmers, he said, did not believe his system would be profitable but that idea has now come of age being the only way that they avoid the Charo mussels, an invasive specie that multiplies in the water very rapidly.

Today, oyster farmers and those raising high-value fish in cages in Dagupan City are battling the the Charo mussels that not only multiply so fast but stick to the nets being used in fish cages and are very difficult to remove.

Rice said he recommenced to Mayor Belen Fernandez some three years ago to encourage oyster farmers to shift to the tray method so they can earn more .

He warned that the waters of Dagupan and some parts of the country are now teeming with Charo mussels that came all the way from South America and are competing in food as well as space with the green-lipped mussels being raised by farmers resulting in smaller mussels compared to mussels coming from Western Pangasinan.

He also urged farmers to collect the Charo mussels which are edible, and ground them to be used as poultry feeds, being rich in calcium and good for fowls that lay eggs.

“My advice to oyster farmers is to change how they produce their oysters, from setting the stock collection in the water and waiting from 6 to 9 months before harvesting and instead to move the green-lipped oysters to trays so they can grow without the charo mussels affecting them,” he said. (Leonardo Micua)

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