BUHI, CAMARINES SUR: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Bicol is trying to revive the aquaculture industry by propagating freshwater fish through project “BASIL: Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa” here.
Through the Basil program, BFAR-Bicol released 200,000 tilapia fingerlings in Lake Buhi, this town to bring back the lucrative source of income of the people and support the protein requirement of the Bicolanos through the propagation of freshwater fish.
Nonie Enolva, BFAR regional spokesman, hopes that through project Basil the endemic fish population will be restored.
“Our office dispersed 200,000 tilapia fingerlings and 20,000 acclimatized bangus (milkfish) fingerlings in Lake Buhi. While freshwater gillnets will be distributed to registered fisherfolk,” Enolva said.
“Hopefully we will be able to bring back the endemic fish population like our puyo, merapina, casili, gourami and others. Initially, we have available tilapia fingerlings for dispersal to interested LGUs and backyard farmers,” she said.
Lakes Bato and Buhi account for about 90 percent of the total tilapia production in Bicol an estimated five to 12 metric tons daily from each.
Tilapia produced in Rinconada lake were domestically distributed and also sold in nearby provinces and the metro.
Meanwhile, Enolva said the Bicol region is free from a new and emerging infectious disease known as “Tilapia Lake Virus” (TiLV) causing mass die-offs of tilapia earlier reported in Israel, Ecuador, Columbia and Egypt.
“Despite the virus, Bicol and Philippine aquaculture areas remain to be free of TiLV,” Enolva said.
In a global context, tilapia production contributes about $7.5 billion to the fisheries industry especially coming from China, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Lao PDR and Bangladesh.
Recently, TiLV was confirmed as the cause of mass deaths of cultured tilapia in Thailand. Enolva explained that the signs of the disease are dermal erosions and ulcers, opacity and shrinkage of the eyes.
Diseased fish also exhibit loss of appetite, pale color, gathering in the bottom of lakes, slow movement, and stopped schooling prior to death. Mass mortality of 20-90 percent among cultured tilapia is an indicative sign of the disease.
The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Detection Methods are used in the confirmation of infection or the presence of the virus.
Dennis del Socorro, BFAR Bicol regional director ordered fish health officers, extension workers and quarantine officers to strictly monitor the health status of cultured tilapia and to report immediately any disease outbreak.
Del Socorro also asked fish farmers to be vigilant and promptly report occurrence of fish mortalities to confirm occurrence of the disease and prevent a possible outbreak.
“We should protect the tilapia industry here by adopting good aquaculture practices and following other fisheries regulations,” he said.