IN RESPONSE to the growing problem of bullfrog infestation on the hito (catfish) hatchery in Los Amigos, Davao City, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Davao Region turned over nets and ropes that are 2,100 meters long to be installed as fence around the catfish ponds to avoid any more frogs from jumping in the waters.

According to Tres Hermanos Hatchery operator and grower doctor My Lady Rose F. Domingo, the problem on bullfrog infestation started during the later months of 2015 and prospered until the early months of 2016. Domingo said that for the 2016 she, together with her fellow aquaculturist, thought of alternative ways of eradicating these bullfrogs such as mixing formalin solution in the pond. For a while, this had killed a few bullfrog tadpoles but had also started to kill hito fingerlings which made Domingo stopped the practice.

They also tried the traditional salt solution but it wasn’t as effective. On May 2017, she started to seek help from the BFAR Davao Regional Office.

Nylon nets and ropes were distributed on Tuesday, January 16, to about 210 hito growers under the Tres Hermanos Hatchery. They are each to receive 100 meters of nets and ropes which will be installed on the sides of the hito fry ponds in a leaning fashion facing outwards. Although high jumpers can jump as high as one to two meters high, Domingo said the bullfrogs will not be able to jump in the nets that are 3 to 4 feet high when they are installed in a leaning fashion facing outwards.

“We studied the anatomy of these bullfrogs. They also have the same size as the hito fingerlings when they are both 15 days old. However, the tadpoles already have complete dentures and sharp which makes them easier to eat and kill the small hito – as big as one and a half inches,” Domingo said.

Tres Hermanos Hatchery is a one-hectare farm that started in 1999 with about 60 farmers coming from the different areas in Davao Region. Their first big customer was Makro where they were supplying about 500 kilos of hito a day and increased to about a thousand. Hito from Los Amigos, Davao then was already being supplied to Cagayan de Oro and Cebu through Makro.

Now, they are supplying live hito to Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Cotabato, Bukidnon, Agusan, and Butuan.

When bullfrog started infesting their hatchery, Domingo said it really took a toll on the hito industry in Los Amigos as their harvest during that time decreased to as much as 90 percent. As solution, they have initiated eradication of parent stock in the ponds before putting up a fence around it.

According to BFAR Fisheries Production and Support Services Division (FPSSD) Chief Raul C. Millana, if this problem is not given proper attention it might fully eradicate the hito growing in Los Amigos. “Hito is actually not included in our 5 roadmap commodity of BFAR but we are still going to give attention because hito in Davao City is already an industry,” he said adding that these frogs should only be prohibited from entering the ponds and not be killed or poisoned as they are part of the natural symbiotic relationship.