American students learn from Filipino aquaculture experts

Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) - January 11, 2015 - 12:00am

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – A group of American students are currently in the country to study  the Filipinos’ success in fisheries.

An American professor from the University of Rhode Island recently  brought a group of American students to the Philippines, particularly to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) center in Dagupan, for a course devoted to Philippine aquaculture.

Dr. Michael Rice of the Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Sciences of the University of Rhode Island,  told The STAR  that they have  embarked on an intensive study of aquaculture here as part of  an Aquaculture Fishery Science 492 course which has a  special topic named Aquaculture in the Philippines. He brought nine of his students here.

He said they would be here for 18 days, starting  Jan. 1.

“This is strictly a winter course for the students to learn tropical aquaculture from the masters, from the Pinoys who really do this well,” Rice, a professor for 28 years, said.

“We are here because the Philippines is one of the leading countries in terms of aquaculture production and research,” Rice said.

He added, “Quite frankly, the Pinoys taught me everything that I know about aquaculture.”

He said he wanted his students to have the same experience that he had in the Philippines.

Rice admires the Filipinos for being “extremely resourceful in terms of solving problems, and I want to make sure that my students would have that sort of outlook”.

Although they are not raising bangus (milkfish) in Rhode Island and other fish raised in the BFAR-National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center here, Rice said his basic philosophy as professor is to tie aquaculture in the concept of international development.

“That has been my main passion and my main work in my life and it is becoming increasingly important. Many of the techniques are not directly applicable (in our country) but basically the way of solving problems as they arrive as a process, that’s what I want my students to know,” he said.

Rice added that to some extent, Filipinos are better adapted to the changing world in many ways.

The American professor has been to many countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Africa, Georgia,  “but this (Philippines, especially BFAR Dagupan) is where my heart is.”

Rice had worked in BFAR  in 1981 as a peace corps volunteer and had  authored a paper with Westremundo Rosario, the father of the incumbent BFAR Dagupan center chief, about oysters and oyster farming and exporting oysters. He spent some more years working in different capacities related to aquaculture in the country.

Rice is amazed at how the BFAR center here, under Dr. Westly Rosario, son of Westremundo, has become one of the country’s leading aquaculture centers for research and hatchery of various fish species.

During one of the activities of the American students, they were taught how to get sabalos (mother bangus) from fishponds and determine their sex. The visiting students  were also exposed to the multi-million peso industry from culture, production, harvest, trading and processing of bangus in this Bangus Capital of the World.

They were also toured to island barangays here where different fishing indigenous structures are located, including oyster farming.

They are schedule to visit the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City to see how tourism, aquaculture and the environment are balanced.

They will also  tour the coastal town of Sual where fish pens and a power plant are located,  and yet where no fish kill incident has happened due to good aquaculture practices.

Rice’s students have been extremely excited about what they’ve seen.

Dr. Westly Rosario, for his part, noted that the visiting students are amazed to see several facilities in the sprawling BFAR center here.

“We could also learn a lot from them,” he said, adding that one of the students is knowledgeable about seabass and oysters and how integrated multi-tropic aquaculture is promoted in the US.

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