PGMA launches `mariculture highway' to promote culture/production of
high-value fish species
SIBUTU, Tawi-Tawi - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo launched here
today (Thursday) a mariculture development project to promote the
culture and production of high-value fish species which are quite in
demand in neighboring countries in Asia.
The President led the unveiling of the marker of the Tawi-Tawi
Modified Mariculture Development Project, an anti-poverty project that
would directly benefit more than 52,000 coastal dwellers and
fisherfolks in the adjacent island towns of Sibutu and Sitangkai.
Assisting the President during the capsule-laying ceremonies at the
municipal grounds here were Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Defense
Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Secretary Jesus Dureza ,Tawi-Tawi Governor
Sadikul Sahali, and Lone District Representative Nur Jaafar.
Welcoming the President were more than 1,000 residents led by Sibutu
Mayor Kuyoh Pajiji, Sitangkai Mayor Tiblan Ahaja, and Bureau of
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Malcolm Sarmiento.
Among those who arrived with the President were Agriculture Secretary
Arthur Yap, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Secretary Jesus Dureza
and Armed Forces Chief Of Staff Alexander Yano.
The President also awarded a P2-million check for the scholarship
program of the Institute of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and
distributed various fishing paraphernalia including 100 6.5-horsepower
engines, 10 units of fish finders, and 10 units of global positioning
system (GPS) for the 10 fishermen's associations in the province.
The mariculture project here involves the production and culture of
high-value fish species such as groupers (lapu-lapu) including the
backyard culture of
abalone, sea urchin, and pearls.
In her speech, the President said the project is in line with her
super regions concept to equally distribute the fruits of economic
reforms to the countryside particularly in the less developed areas.
The President said the mariculture project would increase the income
of the more than 50,000 fisherfolks here to an estimated P100 million
for every fishing harvest period.
The President later conducted an aerial inspection of the fish cages
in the 75-hectare mariculture project situated in the shallow inland
waters of Sibutu and Sitangkai.
The government is pushing the establishment of mariculture parks (MPs)
throughout the country which now number 31 to create more jobs and
livelihood opportunities particularly in areas such as Tawi-Tawi, the
poorest province in the country.
A "mariculture highway" starting in Tawi-Tawi would be established as
soon as mariculture parks all over the country can already produce
enough volume of high-value aquaculture products such as fish, crab,
shrimp, sea cucumber, abalone and seaweed.
BFAR Director Sarmiento said this highly-marketable and huge volume of
cultured marine species would then attract buyers who will collect
them in mariculture parks using the Strong Republic Nautical Highway
en route to local and export markets.
The BFAR is envisioning a network of mariculture parks in both the
western and eastern corridors of the country as trading post for
cultured high-value fish and other marine species for both local and
"The mariculture highway (western seaboard) that would be established
later would start from this place (Tawi-Tawi) going north. It would
pass Zamboanga where we already have a mariculture park going to
Palawan, Mindoro, La Union and thence to foreign markets such as Hong
Kong and China," Sarmiento said.
For the eastern seaboard, Sarmiento said the mariculture highway going
to Luzon would start in Samal Island in Davao and Surigao passing
through Leyte and Samar, which also host mariculture parks that have
already been operational over the past several years.
The peaceful province of Tawi-Tawi is an ideal site for year-round
mariculture production due to its pristine waters, rich and diverse
fishery resources, and conducive climate.
Rep. Jaafar said Tawi-Tawi is currently the top producer of seaweeds
in the country with an annual production of 361,000 metric tons.
Jaafar said that among the teeming high-value fish species in the
province are several types of groupers (lapu-lapu) including the
prized Napoleon wrasse,
locally called "mameng."
Although the catch and sale of mameng is currently banned under
Philippine laws, middlemen sometimes buy "mameng" from local
fisherfolks here at P1,000 per kilo which, Jaafar said, is then sold
in urban areas at P2,000 to P2,500 a kilo and even fetches P5,000 a
kilo in neighboring countries such as Hong Kong.
Only last week, Jaafar said the House of Representatives conducted a
committee hearing on the regulated fishing of mameng in the country
only during its breeding season in keeping with the Convention on the
International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) that considers the
Napoleon wrasse only as threatened and not an endangered one.
Visit the Website of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo - http://www.kgma.org/gma