Five giant ‘lapu-lapu’ breeders freed into Sarangani Bay

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 June) –  Five giant “lapu-lapu” (grouper) spawners were released into the protected Sarangani Bay in a bid to boost the livelihood of thousands of small fishermen as well as spur tourism in the area, officials said.

Genia Genosa, production superintendent for Finfish Hatcheries Inc., said the giant lapu-lapus, which weigh from 80 kilograms to more than 100 kilograms each, were released recently into Sarangani Bay to help replenish the grouper population in the area.

“One giant grouper can spawn 20 per cent of its own body weight in eggs, meaning one of the spawning groupers can lay between 16 kilograms to more than 20 kilograms of egg per cycle,” she said in a statement obtained Tuesday.

Genosa explained further that each kilo of giant grouper eggs can have as much as 1.2 million fries.

“The reason why they lay so many eggs is because the mortality of their fry is only around 5 per cent but they lay so many and we hope that with the proper guidance, they can help repopulate Sarangani Bay with groupers,” Genosa said.

The giant groupers were released in nearby Maasim town in Sarangani by Finfish Hatcheries, a subsidiary of the Alcantara Group, majority owner of the 200-megawatt coal-fired power plant operated by Sarangani Energy Corp.

Lopez said that since the SEC jetty area is an environmentally protected seascape, catching the groupers, among other marine species, is illegal. Coal imported from Kalimantan, Indonesia is unloaded at the jetty.

“We will ask our Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to keep an eye on the giant groupers and help us make sure that they are safe,” Lopez said.

Former Sarangani governor Miguel Rene Dominguez, executive vice president for the Alsons Business Unit, said in the statement that “this is the first time he has heard that a private company is reseeding a marine protected area with breeders so that they can continuously produce.”

“It is a significant contribution because we are going to seed the marine protected area with grouper breeders so that they will reproduce here in the marine protected area and later on will become available for the fishermen to catch at the allowed fishing grounds,” Dominguez said.

He also said that “this is the first time in the country or possibly the whole world where a private company is reseeding a marine protected area with breeders or brood stock so that they can continuously reproduce and make it sustainable.”

“We have been restocking Sarangani Bay with milkfish but we decided to take it a step further by putting (lapu-lapu)  breeders back in the wild where they belong. Not only will it help in the sustainability of the bay, but hopefully the giant groupers will become a big tourist attraction for Maasim as divers can swim with these giant creatures (because they’re) friendly,” Dominguez added.

During the event, Ruben Tungpalan, Sarangani Energy’s Corporations’ (SEC) Corporate Affairs Manager reiterated SEC’s commitment to protecting and preserving Sarangani Bay.

“We are situated right in front of Sarangani Bay which means that we have the bigger responsibility of making sure that they bay is protected and preserved,” Tungpalan said.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos declared Sarangai Bay as a protected seascape through Proclamation No. 756, s. 1996. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)