GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 Feb) – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region 12 will acquire an additional 270,000 hybrid tilapia breeder fingerlings this year to help augment the region’s dwindling tilapia stocks.
Ambutong Pautong, BFAR Region 12 director, said Thursday the move was mainly aimed to offset the impact of the continuing fish kill at Lake Sebu in South Cotabato and the declining quality of tilapia stocks at Lake Buluan in Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat.
He said they initially acquired last month an initial 30,000 hybrid tilapia breeder fingerlings from the National Freshwater Fisheries Technology Research Center in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
“For this month, we’re getting an additional 40,000 fingerlings and this will continue on a monthly basis until we reach our target of 300,000 breeder fingerlings,” Pautong told MindaNews.
Based on BFAR-12’s assessment, the official said the region presently needs around 500,000 hybrid tilapia breeder fingerlings to ensure the availability of quality tilapia stocks in the area in the next two years.
But he said they reduced their target to 300,000 fingerlings due to the limited capacity of the hatchery in Nueva Ecija.
Pautong said the fingerlings will be distributed by the agency for free to its partner breeders in Banga town in South Cotabato.
He said a portion of the tilapia fingerlings that would be produced by the breeder stocks will be distributed later on to the fish cage operators who were affected by the fish kill in Lake Sebu.
As of Wednesday, the municipal government of Lake Sebu reported that a total of 68.219 metric tons of tilapia worth around P5.2 million had been devastated due to the fish kill in the last three weeks.
Lake warden Rudy Muyco said some 54 fish cage operators were already affected by the fish kill, which occurred in the eastern and western sections of the 54-hectare lake.
Muyco said the latest fish kill, which is the first this year, was caused anew by kamahong, a phenomenon that is mainly caused by the sudden rise in the water’s temperature.
Kamahong, which usually occurs during the rainy season, triggers the rise of sulfuric acid in the lake’s waters that eventually cause the fish kill.
“We will replenish the lake’s tilapia stocks based on the reported volume that was lost during the fish kill,” Pautong said.
The official said the bulk of the fingerlings that would be produced by their acquired breeders will be distributed to fish cage operators in Lake Buluan, which is currently the region’s main source of tilapia.
Citing their recent studies, the normal growing period for tilapia at the lake has so far stretched to one year from the previous six months due to the declining quality of tilapia stocks.
“It was mainly caused by inbreeding or the recycling of fish stocks. We need to replenish all the tilapia stocks with hybrid figerlings every two years to prevent this problem,” Pautong said.
To ensure the availability of enough quality tilapia stocks on a long-term basis, he said BFAR-12 is planning to link up with the municipal government of Banga and other local government units (LGUs) for the establishment of additional tilapia hatcheries in the area.
He said the agency will provide the breeder stocks and technical assistance to local operators while the LGUs will assist the operations of the hatcheries.
“We’re looking at eventually producing all our stock requirements for tilapia through this scheme,” he added.