Aquaculture making a comeback in Magat Dam
TUGUEGARAO CITY -– There was a time when the Magat Dam and Reservoir in Ramon, Isabela used to be Region 2’s single biggest area for aquaculture operations.
At its peak in early to mid-2000’s, fish cage operators were able to harvest an average of 35 metric tons of tilapia daily. Fish farming was so lucrative then that fish cage operators numbered about 12,638 at its peak.
A mixture of greed and successive natural calamities led to heavy losses. Gradually, locators closed shop and were down to as few as 200 in 2013.
In an effort to revive the once vibrant fish cage industry in the area, the Bureau Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) region 2, together with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and Aboitiz Power, established the Magat Aquapark Project back in Oct. 2012.
Under the project, fish cage modules were given to fisherfolk associations to serve as show window on proper technologies and as livelihood project for the fisherfolk. Twenty-one fish cage modules plus fingerlings and feeds were distributed to 11 associations.
Each module consists of four cages measuring 6 x 12 x 5 meters. Stocking rate is 12 pieces per square meter. Feed allocation is computed at 10 bags per thousand pieces fingerlings.
The Aquapark project helped bring to the forefront the advantages of cage operations and thus encouraged investors.
From its lowest in 2013, operators now number more than 400, says Albert Corpuz, NIA Aquaculturist.
Johny Buyawen, a fish farmer and Chair of the Magat IFARMC, started with 6 units in 2015. This has grown to 16 units at present. Income from 4 units is PHP80,000 per harvest.
Materials for fish cage construction are being brought-in almost daily into the area, says Zaide Remocal, BFAR RO2 technician.
Magat Dam and Reservoir has a total water area of 4,500 hectares. The law stipulates that 10 percent of this can be used for fish farming purposes.
“We shall continue to disseminate aquaculture technologies and create proper conditions for the industry to prosper. This is one of the priorities at the national level,” BFAR RO2 Regional Director, Dr. Nelson B. Bien, said. (PNA)