SEA BOUNTIES – Giant oysters and mussels from the waters of Taytay, Palawan are harvested by a Bureau of Fisheries and Aqautic Resources (BFAR) worker. The agency is initiating moves to modernize the country’s shellfish industry. (Jojo Rinoza)
Dagupan City, Pangasinan – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is working on the modernization of the shellfish industry, BFAR-National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center chief Dr. Westly Rosario said.
“The ‘Shellfish Industry Development Project aims to put the shellfish production to an industrialized level, which has been neglected for so many years,” Rosario said.
He rued that since 1931, when the country’s shellfish production took off, farming methods have remained the same.
The project is taking root in Taytay in the northern part of Palawan.
“This is where we will set the first community-based shellfish industry,” says Rosario.
Taytay, Palawan hosts the Malampaya sound, a protected inlet of the South China Sea on the northwestern coast of Palawan.
It is a geographic sound consisting of a complex of sheltered bays, coves, estuaries and islands separated from the sea to the west by the Copoas Peninsula.
The sound is an important feature for the ecology and economy of the province of Palawan.
It is considered one of the finest natural harbors in the Philippines and one of Palawan’s richest fishing grounds.
Last October, Rosario’s team gathered shellfish samples there and were surprised by the large oysters and mussels.
“The shellfish industry in Palawan is far from ideal. People here say they have a bountiful harvest of oysters and mussels but it was stopped because market was not good. A kilo of mussels or oysters ranges only 3 to 5 pesos a kilo. So they just stopped harvesting,” Rosario said.
He, however, sees an irony in the situation since Palawan hosts a good number of top, world renowned tourist destinations , which are big markets for harvested shellfish.
Rosario also said some individuals who used to be shellfish farmers experessed interest in returning to the cultivation of shellfish, provided that they earn enough and get ample support.
“The Norwegian embassy will be also helping to fund this project, as long as most of the women in the community will be involved.” Rosario added.