BFAR 7 allocates P9.1M to strengthen seaweed industry

BFAR 7 allocates P9.1M to strengthen seaweed industry

THE local fisheries office in Central Visayas has allocated P9.1 million to bolster the thriving seaweed industry in the region.

Laila Bragat, information officer of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7, said the funds will be used for training individuals in cultivating seafood, enabling them to make a living from it, and addressing seaweed diseases.

“In fact, seaweed is one of the top five priorities of Bfar. These top five commodities, though we gave importance to all aquatic fisheries, these (five priorities) include bangus (milkfish), tilapia, guso (seaweed), shrimp, and shellfish,” she said.

Bragat told SunStar Cebu that they are giving priority to assisting fishermen and residents of coastal villages who have been affected by the ongoing closed fishing season.

In Cebu, this particularly affected the fishermen in the island municipalities of Bantayan: Madridejos, Santa Fe, and Bantayan.

Under Fisheries Administrative Order 167-3, the catching, killing, selling, or possessing of sexually mature sardines, herrings, mackerels, or their offspring known locally as “lupoy,” “silinyasi,” “linatsay,” or “manansi,” is strictly prohibited in certain areas.

She said the ban or the implementation of a closed fishing season, aims to facilitate fish propagation and ensure the conservation of crucial species. It has been in effect since last November and will continue until February this year.

Bragat said fishermen who are also capable of cultivating seaweeds are suitable for this project.

Highest volume

According to the 2022 Performance of Agriculture and Fisheries report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority 7 on Dec. 4, seaweed ranks highest among the non-highlighted fisheries species in Central Visayas in terms of crop production volume, reaching 13.22 thousand metric tons.

It is followed by P. vannamei or whiteleg shrimp at 4.75 thousand metric tons.

Fisheries not listed as primary commodities collectively recorded a production volume of 30.21 thousand metric tons. These include bullet tuna (bansikol), red bull-eyed (baga), barracuda (tabangko), octopus, cuttlefish (kugotan), eel (bakasi) and others.

Seaweed-based products

Bragat said they are also introducing new ways how to market seaweed to the public by coming up with new products from seaweed.

“Since the region can produce a lot of seaweed, we introduced processing to them, to the women groups, and also to associations that are into seaweed farming,” she added.

She said that when market prices for seaweed drop due to oversupply, they encourage fisherfolks to turn them into value-added products such as seaweed jam, seaweed crackers, seaweed salvaro, and dried seaweeds.

She said BFAR provides beneficiaries with processing training along with the necessary utensils and equipment needed for the production process.

Meanwhile, Bragat urged local government units to help and adapt the seaweed processing in their localities, adding that they can coordinate with the Department of Trade Industry in terms of marketing and packaging the product.

“We really hope that each municipality has an existing group where they sell fisheries products, including seaweed,” she said.

During the recently concluded three-day Suroy Suroy Sugbo tourism program of the Cebu Provincial Government, tourists were given a pack of seaweed upon arriving on Bantayan Island on the second day of the trip, which took place last Jan. 25, 2024.

Olango

SunStar Cebu reported last November 2023 that 197 beneficiaries residing in Barangay Sabang on Olango Island participated in seaweed farming through the Risk Resiliency Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7.

Following theoretical training and practical fieldwork, these beneficiaries successfully established seven seaweed nurseries.

The DSWD 7 highlighted the high market demand for seaweed and its potential to mitigate dynamite fishing, making the training a valuable pursuit. The cultivated seaweed finds applications in food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers, and industrial products.

Seaweed farming is recognized as an environmentally sustainable practice due to its ability to absorb excess nutrients from the water, potentially enhancing water quality and providing a habitat for marine species.

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