SANTA TERESITA, Cagayan: Residents in the coastal towns of Cagayan on Sunday expressed alarm over the dwindling supply of fish due hot weather which also affected the production of the popular Vannamae shrimp.
The coastal towns of Buguey, Claveria, Gonzaga and Santa Teresita are known for the production of crabs, lobster and shrimps including Vannamae, also called Penaeus Vannamei.
Fish vendor Medina Realica said that for more than a month now, there has not been a supply of Vannamae shrimps due to the scorching summer heat.
Earlier, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for Region 2 has warned fish farmers in Cagayan Valley of an imminent “fish kill” in the midst of the summer season.
Reports said that temperature in Cagayan has reached as high as 39 degrees Celsius particularly in Tuguegarao City in recent days.
The BFAR regional office said data indicate that high fish mortality and fish kills usually occur during the summer months of April and May.
“Thus, we are urging fish farmers to conduct total harvest to prevent further losses,” said Emerson Tattao, regional BFAR aquaculturist.
He said the hot weather and low water level, both in fishpond and fish cage areas, speed up the decomposition process of organic matter and facilitate the release of harmful gases trapped in the pond or river bottom.
Realica’s income also took a dive with no shrimp to sell since April.
“I have been selling a lot of this shrimp species but for more than a month now, there hasn’t been any supply yet, only to find out that fish ponds have been heavily affected by the hot weather,” Realica said.
DATAJ Fishing Industry and Resorts Inc. founder Engr. Danilo Tamayo has 100 hectares of aqua farms in Gonzaga and Santa Teresita towns which reportedly were affected by the “heat and low level of water” in the ponds.
In its more than 48 hectares of shrimp ponds, DATAJ produces a daily average of 500 kilos of Vannamae shrimps for local consumption, and a minimum of 3,500 kilos for delivery to major cities outside Region 2.
Realica said she sells P280 per kilo of Vannamae and was earning at least P20-P30 a kilo.
Vannamae shrimps live in brackish water and are one of the best-selling produce of Santa Teresita and Gonzaga towns.
Vannamae is native to the Eastern Pacific coast in Sonora, Mexico and can be found throughout Central and South America. It is also popular in Taiwan and Thailand and in the Americas.
BFAR fish experts said Vannamae is now rapidly gaining ground as top shrimp species for culture in other countries notably in China where it has replaced Penaeus Monodon or the black tiger shrimp (sugpo or padaw in Iloko) as preferred shrimp for culture.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations lists worldwide production of Vannamae at 2.3 million metric tons in 2007 from 194,000 metric tons in 1998.
Experts said the popularity of Vannamae can be attributed to faster growth, higher yield and lower production cost against the Monodon.