August 1, 2011


Philippines eyes US$10-billion fishery exports
The Philippines aims to boost export revenues from fishery exports to as much as US$10 billion by providing the industry with a strong research and development (R&D) support.
According to the Bureau of Agricultural Research, the export revenue of the fishery sector reaches US$700 million to US$800 million annually. The Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 Vision report noted that the subsector has the potential to generate as much as US$10 billion in export receipts.

To achieve this potential, the attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has lined up R&D programs for 12 commodities from 2011 to 2016.

These are on tuna, seaweeds, shrimp, tilapia, milkfish, shellfish including abalone and oyster, mudcrab, rabbitfish, sea cucumber, grouper and pangasius.

BAR director Nicomedes Eleazar said the government's thrust to make the fisheries sector a big dollar earner and jobs supplier is a potential that the fishery industry has long recognized. He said BAR's research programs will help establish these hopes and sustain the sector in reaching revenue targets.
The BAR noted that tuna is a top R&D agenda. The agency is looking at mapping through a geographic information system (GIS) the migratory patterns of tuna and value-adding technologies to generate more, higher-priced tuna products than the present export of mostly canned tuna.

The agency will conduct these activities in collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department, and the University of the Philippines Visayas.

BFAR says tuna is the country's top export earner at close to US$400 million.

For shrimp which contributes US$70 million to fishery export, Eleazar said there is a need to come up with a Philippine-bred, disease-free broodstock.

Currently, the country imports specific pathogen-free or specific pathogen-resistant broodstock for Black Tiger shrimp.

Eleazar tells that shrimp or prawn has a huge export market in developed countries even as Thailand exports praws at US$1 billion to US$2 billion yearly.

Seaweeds, which rake in US$130 million in revenues mostly in the form of semi-processed carrageenan, require programs on the development of disease-free species, particularly for the food-processing grade cottonii variety, the BAR said.

Eleazar says molecular marker assisted breeding will be used to develop disease-resistant strains. Other seaweed programs are the establishment of live gene bank for the identification of quality seaweed germplasm and a study on seaweed growing's stock enhancement and stock monitoring system, he adds.

For tilapia, BAR said the R&D agenda focuses on the development of low-cost, high-quality, and environment-friendly feeds. While BFAR's National Fisheries Research and Development Institute has already developed excellent tilapia strains such as saline-tolerant and cold-tolerant tilapia, there is a need to produce their broodstock and fingerlings.

The production of fry for tilapia suitable for extreme temperature arising from climate change is an important concern as much as this is also a concern in other fishery species," he said.

Meanwhile, the BAR said popular local fish species milkfish needs improved hatchery techniques on broodstock management, nutrition, larval rearing, and handling. Low-cost feed production, mapping of fry sources, and proper-cage design under extreme environmental conditions are other milkfish-research areas.

Eleazar says the BAR is also supporting R&D for other fishery products that have yet to be produced in bigger quantities. R&D area in mudcrab includes development of a hatchery system, production of quality broodstock and value-adding technologies, he tells.

The BAR said other products that require a good hatchery system and value-adding technologies are rabbitfish, sea cucumber, abalone, and other shellfishes. For pangasius, a big export product of Vietnam, the R&D concern is on the production of fingerlings.

The rest of the research areas are on the identification of potential sites for oyster and quality-control standards particularly for the depuration from PSP (paralytic shellfish poisoning) toxins of oyster; genetic fingerprinting for breeding of grouper; and  development of grow-out culture protocol and marker-assisted breeding for abalone and other shellfishes.

The Agriculture and Fisheries 2025 spearheaded by the DA and the Congressional Commission on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization indicated that the Philippines can become a seafood basket and aqua-marine center of the world.

Among the goals are to produce one-million tonnes of milkfish and 500,000 tonnes of tilapia, and 90,000 tonnes of shrimp from the present 35,000 tonnes; establish a 1,000-hectare aquaculture area that is mechanized and a tilapia grow-out facility for private farmer partnership; and set up a fisher technician-training program and a community organizing volunteers project.

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