DA to transform Ilocos sand dunes into fishponds
() - September 8, 2002 - 12:00am
In a move meant to display how far local aquaculture has advanced, the government is attempting to transform the dry and humid sand dunes of Ilocos Norte into freshwater, fishponds, Agriculture Secretary Montemayor said yesterday.

So far, a P1.8 million pilot project ran by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Barangay Madiladig, Laoag City – or right within the borders of the provincial capital, has initially produced encouraging results, Montemayor said.

In an experiment using freshwater prawn or ulang as stock, BFAR had been able to harvest last May about 504 pieces, or 25.5 kilograms, of adult prawn from a 625-square meter wide and 1.7 meter deep sand dune. It came seven months after the first batch of 2,600 post larvae freshwater prawn had been dispersed into the area, the DA chief said.

Montemayor said brackish water supplied through a pipe from a nearby creek has been used to fill up a man-made fishpond created out of excavating a certain depth of sand in the said barangay.

The artificial pond itself was made in a manner whereby after pond bottom leveling was done, a plastic sheet pond liner was put all over, storing the brackish water in place and preventing it from seeping through the sand, just like an ordinary basin does, the DA chief said.

To complete the picture, dikes, water storage tanks, a water supply system, a storehouse and gates to secure the area had been constructed, Montemayor said, citing a report submitted by BFAR executive director Malcom Sarmiento Jr.

"The project had proven it is technically viable to raise high-value freshwater species like prawns in sandy areas," Montemayor said. "This should bolster hopes that one day, even supposed wastelands like sand dunes can be turned into productive aquaculture sites."

The DA chief said the Ilocos sand dunes are the closest thing the Philippines can have for a desert. Earlier thought to be barren, they can soon be turned to productive use with the advances made in aquaculture technology.

Sarmiento said the pioneering test is being done under the close watch of BFAR field personnel of Ilocos Norte, with support from the provincial government headed by Gov. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, the city government of Laoag, and the Figuracion family, who owns the property on where the pilot project is being implemented.

BFAR Ilocos regional director Nestor Domenden said a series of follow-up experiments in the same venue will start in a few weeks, with the possibility of culturing other aquaculture species like lapu-lapu (grouper), milkfish, seabass and siganid.

Studies show Ilocos Norte has around 5,107 hectares of sand dunes, 10 percent of which are considered potential areas for fishpond development.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MONTEMAYOR BARANGAY MADILADIG BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES ILOCOS ILOCOS NORTE LAOAG CITY MALCOM SARMIENTO JR. MARCOS JR MONTEMAYOR NESTOR DOMENDEN SAND
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