Yap unveils abalone breeding program
() - July 22, 2007 - 12:00am

ILOILO CITY— Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap launched here yesterday a five-year, P15-million program spearheaded by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) and DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to reinvigorate the fledgling abalone industry in the Philippines and capture the highly lucrative global market for this export product.

Yap said the P15-million investment of DA-BFAR in the National Abalone Breeding and Culture Program, “is well worth it,” considering that in the first year alone, the six abalone hatcheries and six grow-out farms to be  built under this initiative are projected to produce more than 100,000 kilos, which is worth P36 million in the local market and P56.5 million if exported.

He said the DA-BFAR and SEAFDEC is looking at six possible sites for abalone hatcheries and grow-out sea cage farms—two each in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. These are in Claveria in Cagayan Valley and Sorsogon for Luzon; Bohol and Cebu for the Visayas; and Surigao and Camiguin Island in Mindanao.

“With this national program in place, we hope to maintain our niche as one of the exporters of abalone in the Asia-Pacific region,” Yap said during the 34th anniversary celebration of the SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department held in Tigbauan, Iloilo. “With this five-year program, we are seeding and nurturing the country’s fledgling abalone industry.”

Yap said the Philippines is “looking forward to conquering the abalone export market in succeeding years,” pointing out that the  current world market demand for this fish requires an additional four million to six million kilos annually.

In the last decade, the Philippines exported about P129 million worth of various abalone products.

Yap said that with the rising demand, particularly in China, abalone prices are expected to rise in the global market.

Under the guidance of SEAFDEC aquaculture department, headed by, Dr. Joebert Toledo, Yap said the five-year abalone breeding and culture program would succeed in transforming the once-fledgling abalone industry in the Philippines into a major growth driver for the fisheries sector.

Yap said that as the premier aquaculture research and development institution in Southeast Asia, SEAFDEC has made significant contributions in transforming the Philippines into one of the world’s top producers of shrimps, seaweeds, bangus and tilapia, among other aquaculture and marine products.

“We are  indeed privileged to have a staunch ally in the SEAFDEC-Aquaculture Department through more than three decades now in our continuing efforts to sustain the development and modernization of the Philippine fishery and aquaculture industry,” Yap said.

“That we have breached the four-million ton fishery production in recent years is in part due to the massive adoption and commercialization of several SEAFDEC technologies, particularly in giant tiger shrimp, milkfish, high-value marine fishes, tilapia and other freshwater fishes and prawn, seaweeds, and mudcrabs,” Yap noted.

He assured the SEAFDEC that the DA will continue to support the institution in developing and disseminating technologies for the benefit of stakeholders, most particularly small fishers and their families.

Yap also commended the SEAFDEC for implementing its ongoing initiatives to boost fisheries and aquaculture production, including the “ABOT  (Agree-Build-Operate-Transfer) Aqua Negosyo,” which provides technical aid to interested entrepreneurs who want to venture into aquaculture.

Another SEAFDEC project, he said, is the Institutional Capacity Development for Sustainable Agriculture and Resource Enhancement, which trains local government units, non-government organizations (NGOs), fishermen’s groups, and even fishery schools and colleges on various aquaculture technologies, from site assessment, project establishment, fish stocking to harvest.

Under the leadership of Toledo, Yap said the SEAFDEC has been carrying out several projects in tandem with LGUs and state universities, such as the culture of grouper and mudfish with the Capiz State University; a freshwater hatchery with the Polytechnic College of Antique; cage culture of sea bass with the Mag-aba Cooperative in Pandan, Antique; and the culture of sea bass in Hamtik, Antique.

Last year, the  fishery sector grew by six percent to 4.4 million metric tons, which was valued at P163.4 billion. The aquaculture sub-sector contributed the biggest share at 47.5 percent in terms of volume.

For the first quarter of 2007, the entire fishery sector expanded by 8.6 percent, with its value at current prices placed at P43.7 billion.

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