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What can govt’s aquasilvi program do for our dwindling mangroves cover? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 November 2011 13:48

By JEROME CARLO R. PAUNAN

Aquasilvi, or raising fish in mangrove areas, is an environment-friendly and sustainable approach to increasing fish production without the need to cut down mangrove trees, as when constructing fishponds.

Under the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) aquasilvi program, participating fishermen will plant mangrove trees, and will be trained on how to properly raise and produce high-value species such as lapu-lapu (grouper) in tandem with alimango (mudcrabs) and tilapia. Feed requirement will be minimal as tilapia will serve as the grouper’s food.

The DA-BFAR targets to plant 100 million mangrove propagules in the next three years, particularly abandoned, underutilized, and unproductive fishponds as well as suitable coastal areas nationwide. New mangroves will then serve as potential aquasilvi fish farms for marginal fisherfolk and their families.

The DA-BFAR will also involve state universities and colleges (SUCs) that offer fishery courses as partners. Funds will be downloaded to SUCs through a memorandum of agreement that will be forged between the SUC and the DA-BFAR.

A multi-species hatchery, worth P1.2 million each, will also be established in each SUC. The facility will produce fingerlings that will be distributed to aquasilvi farmers, and serve as a hands-on training venue for breeding fish and other aquatic organisms. Moreover, excess fingerlings will be dispersed in communal waters for stock enhancement.

To ensure the success of the program, it will be managed jointly by the DA-BFAR regional office, concerned SUC, and the host local government.

On the other hand, government’s mangrove reforestation, which rehabilitates what is left of the country’s mangrove forest cover, also aims to improve mangrove areas that had significantly shrunk by more than 80 percent from its pristine state of half a billion hectares in the early 1900s.

According to BFAR director Atty. Asis G. Perez, the more mangrove areas we rehabilitate and develop, the more fish and aquatic species we would nurture and produce, as mangroves serve as their spawning and nursery grounds.

Mangroves also serve as a first line of defense against typhoon surges and tsunamis. They are also good agri-tourism destinations.

Further, mangroves prevent soil erosion and ‘sequester’ or remove carbon dioxide and other forms of carbon from the atmosphere to mitigate or global warming.
However, Perez said, “all our efforts will be futile if we could not curb all forms of destructive fishing that destroy aquatic life and its habitat.”

It can be recalled that last June 2011, barely a week from assuming his post as    BFAR director, Perez led an inter-agency team that apprehended the biggest smuggler of black corals and precious seashells in the country.

 
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