SUAL, Pangasinan-This town has the best fish cages and mariculture practices in the country, according to an official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Glicerio “Serge” Legaspi, senior aquaculturist of BFAR, said he has been to many parts of the country from Bolinao to Mindanao giving technical assistance and training to fish producers and concluded that it is in Sual where he found the best types of fish-cage production that could be considered world class.
“Galingnaakosaiba’tibang parte ngPilipinas at ditosaSualnakitakoang the best operation ng fish cages namasasabinatinna world class,” he said, adding that the worst situation he saw was in Taal Lake in Laguna, municipalities of Bolinao and Anda, and in Dagupan City.
Legaspi said that despite the presence of about 800 fish cages in Sual’s municipal waters, the town never experienced a single fishkill to date unlike in other towns where fish pens and other fishing contraptions have sprouted like mushrooms.
The same observation was shared by Levy Loreto Manalac, aquaculture technical manager in the Philippines of US Soybean Export Council, who cited the efforts of Mayor Roberto Ll. Arcinue in helping the fish cage operators and local fishermen improve their operation and boost their income.
Legaspi and Manalac were invited by Mayor Arcinue as resource speakers during a meeting with fish cage operators on Wednesday at the municipal social hall.
Mayor Arcinue presented a new scheme to further maintain orderliness, boost water quality, improve security and sanitation around Sual’smariculture zone which was established through an amendment of the municipal fishery code.
Arcinue said the town is adopting a subdivision-type of arrangement of the fish cages to provide a wider navigational lane for fishing and shipping vessels entering and leaving the town’s fish port and the planned Sual International Seaport.
The navigational lane measure 100 meters in width and 2 kilometers in length.
Under the subdivision scheme, the fish cages are arranged similar to rows of subdivision houses and marked with plate numbers and color codes for easy identification.
Colorum fish cages or those units whose owners are delinquent in paying rentals and other business fees will also be easier to identify through this system, Arcinue said.
Under the amended fishery code of Sual, fish cage owners are required to pay an annual rental fee of only P12,000 and P5,000 business tax per cage. A five-peso per banyera or tub is also collected on harvest milkfish.
One fish cage contains from 35,000 to 50,000 bangus stocks per one harvest period which could be sold at P100 a kilo. A fish cage operator can make a gross sale ranging from P1 million to P3.5 million per cage from each harvest.
MayorArcinue stressed that it has always been his policy to provide support to fish cage owners and other investors setting up businesses in Sual.
Aside from providing jobs to hundreds of residents, the Sual fish cages contribute sizably to the country’s food security program since an average of 60 tons of milkfish are transported daily from Sual to major fish markets like Malabon and Navotas in Metro Manila, he said.
Arcinue said this were the reasons why he fought hard in behalf of the operators when some forces wanted to dismantle the fish cages on the unfounded claim that they pose a threat to the nearby power plant.
The mayor cited the Sangguniang Bayan led by Vice Mayor DionisioCaburao, Jr. and Councilor Godfrey Taboy, chairman of the fishery committee, for the speedy amendment of the town’s fishery code that paved the way for the establishment of a mariculture zone for better operation of fish cages.
He said the town’s BantayDagat has been strengthened with the support of the Coast Guard, local police, and maritime authorities in providing round-the-clock security in the area.
Solar-lighted markers will also be installed for easier navigation at night around the mariculture zone, he said.
Fish cage caretakers and helpers are also provided with identification cards, regular salaries and other benefits as one measure to do away with pilferage and theft.