PCCP, BFAR 8, SANTEH partner for lobster feed trial

Lobster farmer grows juvenile lobsters (about 6 inches) in floating cages in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.
Photo by Irish Jane Calungsod/PCCP
BUTUAN CITY, Agusan del Norte- Lobster farming in the country and other parts in Southeast Asia is reliant upon using trash fish and other feeds taken in the wild, to supply its nutritional requirements. Lobsters are raised in fixed or floating cages, and in some cases, would experience high mortality rate in the farm during the fry stage. Such practices are not sustainable in the long run when high demand of lobsters is felt.

Considered as a wealthy man’s food, the Tiger Lobster (Panulirus ornatus), is often sold between Php2,000-Php3,000.00/kilogram and is popular for export in Philippines’ neighboring countries. With this good price in the market, also comes several challenges to sustain the industry while protecting the environment.

Caraga Region of the northern part of Mindanao, is home to this high-value species, particularly in Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands. When managed and marketed carefully, the lobster industry has the potential to contribute to the region’s economy.

Early in May 2018, the Philippine Cold Chain Project (PCCP), a project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by Winrock International in Caraga region, conducted initial assessments on lobster feed and seed source in the three coastal provinces. The activities were headed by Dr. Clive Jones, a consultant from James Cook University in Australia and PCCP Fishery Specialist Joselito Nobillos. From his visit, Dr. Jones submitted a lobster resource management plan suggesting practices that would protect natural lobster resources and allow sustainable fishing for seed to support a lobster farming sector, to BFAR and Coastal Community Alliance Unified for Sustainable Ecosystem (CCAUSE).

To explore new and innovative lobster feed to minimize removal of live feed from the wild, PCCP facilitated a private-public partnership with the SANTEH Feeds Corporation and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) – Region VIII. The three parties entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together on a feed trial formulation. PCCP was represented by Chief of Party Nicholas Richards, while BFAR with its regional director, Dr. Juan Albaladejo, and SANTEH Feeds with its president, Ma. Patricia Rico. PCCP and SANTEH will shoulder the procurement of the lobster fingerlings. PCCP cover costs for fresh feed components for four control treatments, and consultancy services for experts who will oversee the conduct of the trial, analyze the result and come up with a report. Santeh Feeds will provide formulated feeds for the lobster feed trial. BFAR, on the hand, will provide the use of its multi-species hatchery, the Guiuan Marine Fisheries and Development Center (GMFDC) in Samar and including corresponding operational costs, regular data collection and monitoring and progress report of the trial. SANTEH Feeds advised that their recent development of feed diet for mud crab was effective for farming and hopes to get the same results for lobsters. The success of this feed trial which is set to start in September 2018 is eyed to provide a sustainable and manufactured feed source for lobster production in the country.

The information of the trial will be made available to BFAR – Cortes in Surigao del Sur, Caraga representatives and other stakeholders. PCCP’s two major goals are alongside with BFAR’s vision “to establish a resilient, industrialized and globally competitive lobster industry in the Caraga region that seeks to sustain high quality lobster production to meet global standards, strengthen related policies thereof and providing potential ventures for additional income generation that will enhance quality of life from coastal communities.”

The Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources estimates there are 374 lobster growers in Caraga in 2017. PCCP is able to reach 35 producer groups from the three mentioned provinces. Some are seasoned fishermen while others are new in the industry. The PCCP project which aims to increase productivity of fishery commodities (as well as swine and horticulture) provided various programs, such as technical production and marketing trainings, post-harvest handling, organizational strengthening and micro-financing. Some of successful producers testify that their engagement in the lobster farming was life-changing and has opened them opportunities to improve their way of living. Irish Jane Calungsod/PCCP

Find out more at www.winrockpccp.org

This article was also published in Mindanao Daily News (September 7, 2018)