AQD conducts rural aquaculture training under the HRD program

AQD is the first among the SEAFDEC departments to conduct the Training of trainers, a series of 10-day courses that is being funded by the Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund of the ASEAN Foundation. The training series is under the project Human resource development (HRD) on poverty alleviation and food security by fisheries intervention in the ASEAN region that is implemented by SEAFDEC as a center-wide project.

As Chief Dr. JD Toledo explained, AQD is responsible for the HRD thematic area on rural aquaculture while other SEAFDEC departments will train trainers on local/indigenous institution & co-management and responsible fishing technology (TD), backyard fishery post-harvest technology (MFRD), and inland fisheries development (MFRDMD).

Further, the Chief noted that AQD is offering all of its packaged technologies which are products of 35 years of research work. These technologies, along with AQD’s extension strategies, were presented by 20 AQD senior staff.

Eight participants from SEAFDEC member-countries started the AQD course on 10 November and finished on the 19th. They were joined by an invited participant from AQD’s ICDSA-Northern Samar project and three students from Maejo University (Chiangmai, Thailand) who are undergoing their OJT at Tigbauan Main Station.

After the course, the next task of the eight participants, now fully considered trainers, is on-site training on their choice of technology for the fIsherfolk community they have chosen in their home countries.

Class chair Ms. Hasnisa bt. Hj Abdul Hamid of Malaysia was all praises (“More than I expected!”) for the resource persons and the training staff, though not for the schedule which most of her classmates consider as “tight”. The participants worked through the weekend, conducting participatory rural appraisal of a land-locked but water-rich Dumarao and the coastal Igang community.

The technology selected by the trainers of Thailand, Vietnam, Lao PDR and Indonesia to be “echoed” is freshwater aquaculture. Myanmar chose to focus on mudcrab; and Malaysia on shrimp (
Penaeus monodon) and ornamental fish.

The Philippines and Cambodia are preferring combinations of freshwater and marine fish cage farming.

AQD inks agreement with Ecuador’s National Institute of Fisheries

Having very similar goals of responsible aquaculture/fisheries, AQD and Ecuador’s National Institute of Fisheries signed an agreement on 3 December for a two-year collaboration to establish aquaculture facilities (eg. multi-species marine fish hatchery/nursery and demonstration grow-out ponds & cages) and to conduct training (also on marine fishes) in Ecuador. NIF is allocating over US$350,000 for AQD’s technical assistance on species/site assessment, among others.

AQD conducts mudcrab training in Myanmar

myanmar AQD scientists Dr. Emilia Quinitio and Dr. Fe Estepa travelled to Yangon to conduct a training on Mudcrab farming and visit a potential site for crab farming from 7 to 11 October at the behest of the GOJ-Trust Fund.

On their first day, the scientists paid a courtesy call on Director General Mr. Khin Maung Aye and Deputy Director-General Mr. Khin Ko Lay of the Department of Fisheries at the Myanmar Federation of Fisheries. The Director expressed his government’s gratitude to the Government of Japan and SEAFDEC for the training course, the first lecture series on mud crab culture to be held in Myanmar.

Recognizing the accomplishments of SEAFDEC in the field of mud crab larval rearing, the Myanmar officials indicated their plan to establish a crab hatchery in their country with the assistance of GOJ and SEAFDEC. They requested another trip for AQD to conduct site selection for the hatchery and hands-on training.

The AQD scientists also met the chairs of the Crab Entrepreneurs Association (Mr. U Knin Oo) and of the Fish Information Services Co. (Mr. Hla Win) and spent the next two days (8-9 October) training 64 participants who represented the private and government sectors. Mr. Hla Win translated some of the vital points in the lectures to Burmese.

The AQD scientists gave an overview of mudcrab industry, and lectured on identification & biology, broodstock management & larval rearing, natural food production, pond preparation, nursery rearing, and grow-out.

Progress of Government of Japan trust-funded projects

On December 9 and 10, proponents and reviewers of Government of Japan Trust-funded projects gathered in Amigo Terrace Hotel, Iloilo City to review the work progress for 2008 and present plans for 2009.

The proponents attending the meeting include scientists and research staff from AQD, RIA-2 of Vietnam, Inland Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute of Thailand, and Research Institute for Freshwater Aquaculture of Indonesia.

The external reviewers were Dr. M Sano (Director of Fisheries Research Agency, Japan), Dr. EC Lacierda (Kagoshima University), Dr. LMB Garcia (University of the Philippines Diliman) and Dr. C Baylon (UP Visayas). They congratulated the study leaders for their “great efforts in implementing the studies as planned.” Since 2009 is the last year of the GOJ-TF 4, they also urged the proponents to construct an information network and share the results of the studies. The manual on viral nervous necrosis (VNN) is one of the awaited results. There would also be the revised textbook on aquatic animal health, revised manual on diseases of penaeid shrimps, new manual on fsh nursery, and new proceedings of the 2007 international workshop on fish disease. Already in press are two manuals: identification of commercially important freshwater prawns, and seed production & grow-out of mudcrab in Vietnam.

Dr. Hiroshi Ogata, AQD Deputy Chief and GOJ-TF manager of aquaculture projects, was also pleased with the progress of the three projects which cover: (1) development of fish surveillance system; (2) development of technologies and human capacity building for sustainable aquaculture; and (3) stock enhancement for threatened species of international concern. The GOJ-TF team is working on VNN and other viruses like WSSV, an “indigenous” probiotics, chemical residues in aquaculture; shrimps & prawns, freshwater prawn, mudcrab, sea cucumber, abalone, angelwing clam, giant clam, rice-fish culture, Kappaphycus, sea bass, seahorses, humpback wrasse; and socioeconomic analysis of stock enhancement and technology adoption.

Meetings in Wuxi, China

AQD Chief Dr. JD Toledo was in China for two meetings.

First at the Freshwater Fisheries Research Center (FFRC) of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences in Wuxi on 29 October to discuss recent developments in aquaculture research which directly affects, and may apply to, farmers; possible felds of research and training activities between the two institutions; and strategies to ensure the effcient exchange of trainees and research staff.

Then at the 9th NACA (Network of Aquaculture Centre in Asia-Pacific) technical advisory committee meeting or TAC9, also in Wuxi, from 30 October to 1 November. TAC9 was hosted by the Freshwater Fisheries Institute, NACA’s Regional Lead Center in China. The objective of the meeting was to formulate the Work Plan for regional aquaculture development for the period January 2009-December 2011.

AQD at the 9th ISEP meeting

Information officers of the SEAFDEC Secretariat and Departments gathered in Singapore just before PCM (30 October to 1 November) to discuss the progress of SEAFDEC’s strategies to enhance public visibility and information dissemination.

The 9th Meeting of the information staff exchange program (ISEP) was held at SEAFDEC’s Marine Fisheries Research Department. Development Communication Section Head Ms. Milagros Castanos and Senior Information Assistant Luisa Pacino represented AQD.

Among others, the 9th ISEP suggested updates to SEAFDEC’s information strategies formulated in 2005, clarified definition and coverage of information/success indicators, and made tentative plans for a survey on the extent of stakeholders’ awareness of SEAFDEC programs.

After the reporting and discussions, the ISEP group visited Nanyang Technological University to meet up with the Director-General of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre. Dr. Indrajit Banerjee gave practical advice on launching a media campaign, saying that SEAFDEC must first document in one reference all its accomplishments then work with media professionals to package these information for public consumption.

The group went next to one of the library complexes of the National Library Board of Singapore, and was impressed by its full automation and book drop off points. The library collects all books published in, about, or by Southeast Asia; and has spaces for cultural mini-exhibits (on the old writings of Singapore at the time of the visit) as well.

31st PCM, where AQD work is reviewed

To ensure the effectiveness of program planning and implementation and facilitate review of these, SEAFDEC held its 31st Program Committee (PCM) and 11th Fisheries Consultative Group (FCG) Meetings on 3-7 November 2008 in Singapore.

These meetings, hosted by the SEAFDEC Marine Fisheries Research Department (MFRD), were attended by over 60 participants, representing the ASEAN and SEAFDEC member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), FAO, ASEAN Secretariat, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and senior officials of the Secretariat and SEAFDEC Departments.

AQD was represented by the Chief, Dr. JD Toledo; Deputy Chief, Dr. H. Ogata; RD Head, Dr. EDJ Ayson; TVDD Head, Dr. CL Marte; TID Head, RF Agbayani; and the Special Departmental Coordinator for AQD, Ms. B Acosta.

AQD’s senior management presented the progress of AQD programs in 2008 and plans for 2009. As a result, the participants acknowledged the significant work and achievements of AQD and other Departments and endorsed the program plans for 2009.

Recognizing the immense benefits that the poor sector of society could get from rural aquaculture, the PCM recommended that AQD continue giving priority to dissemination and transfer of viable technologies in the rural communities of less developed countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao PDR and Vietnam.

The meeting also suggested that AQD convenes, in the near future, a regional consultation on aquaculture to hasten the dissemination of information from its activities and identify future directions in line with the needs of member countries and partners in the region.

The meetings also discussed the development of a revised SEAFDEC program framework to facilitate the scrutiny of SEAFDEC programs, clarify the linkages and raise the profile of SEAFDEC at the regional and international level.

Other issues discussed that have relevance to AQD’s work programs include the implementation of ASEAN roadmap for Integration of the fisheries sector, climate change and its impact on fisheries and aquaculture, the implementation of the Code of conduct for responsible fisheries in Southeast Asia, the outcomes of the 1st Regional advisory committee meeting on fisheries management and the Technical guidelines on aquaculture certification.

The meetings also noted the need for a follow-up activity to review the progress made by SEAFDEC since the millennium conference in 2001 (ie. ASEAN-SEAFDEC conference on sustainable fisheries for food security in the new millennium) and define future directions. In view of this, SEAFDEC presented its plans to convene a regional forum that will bring together important stakeholders in 2010 or 2011 in Thailand. The forum tentatively called SEAFDEC Special Event’ is expected to include also a special session on aquaculture.

In summary, the various presentations and discussions that took place during the back-to-back meetings showed how SEAFDEC activities have progressed. At the same time, the challenges ahead as indicated in the proposed and pipeline programs for 2009 and beyond were recognized.

Guangzhou happening

The Global technical and trade conference on shrimp was held on November 6-8 in Guangzhou (formerly Canton), PR China and was organized by FAO, the FishInfoNetwork, the Ministry of Agriculture - PR China and other government & private entities in China.

There were 250 participants from 22
countries, though most were Chinese. The Philippines was well-represented in the conference by Mr. Wilfredo Yap who was invited to talk about the status of shrimp culture in the Philippines, and by eight participants [Pastor Torres Jr, Celia Pitogo of AQD, Minvilu Casido, Susan Landoy, Kaylin Corre (also of AQD), Valeriano Corre, Christopher Co and Mrs. Co].

Field trip: Guangzhou live fish market
Located along the scenic Pearl River, the market’s main business is wholesale live aquatic products like fish, shrimps, crabs, mollusks, etc., and it is the largest in China with an annual traded volume of 190,000 tons. The products come from various parts of China and from 20 countries around the world. During the official briefing we were informed that everyday, around 200 tons of live fish from this market are delivered to HongKong, Macau and several cities in China.

Half of this complex is already in use
and when the project will be completed, it will have two 15-storey towers to hold trading offices and 5 storeys of market area covering 5 hectares. The new Huangsha Aquatic Products Market area will have a total constructed area of 18 ha – a humungous structure!

The field visit also took us to various
farms and a tilapia hatchery in Guangdong Province, but the most interesting farm we visited was not for shrimp, but for freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium.

Because autumn has set in and evening temperature has started to drop (around 20 degrees C), the farm constructed a roof (made of plastic and looking like a “bubble”) over a 4-hectare area of freshwater prawn ponds for over-wintering (next two photos after the scale model). There was also “bull-culling” at the time of visit (4th photo at left) wherein male freshwater prawns are selected for ongrowing to large sizes (above 80 g) in separate ponds with females, which are grown to relatively smaller sizes and harvested just before spawning (30-40 g).

Face-to-face with AQD’s eLearners, training alumni in HongKong
Our flawless trip to Guangzhou via HongKong was largely due to the advice given by a fish health training alumnus, Mr. Aaron Leung who was in AQD for 6 weeks in 1994. Working with HongKong SAR’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, he is the point man in HongKong’s fish health activities. Aaron met us at the Hongdum train station on our way back to HongKong. He was with his boss Dr. WW Cheng, Thomas Ng (Aqua-Health alumnus 2004), Karen Fong and Leo Shum (currently enrolled in Aqua-Health online). During lunch, Dr. Cheng explained to us their fish health activities, also saying how very thankful he is to SEAFDEC for having trained a significant number (a total of seven staff including four now actively participating) of their staff mainly through AquaHealth Online (AHOL). - by CL Pitogo

AQD attends forum on governance of the sea

Experts and stakeholders gathered in Singapore from 3-5 November to give different perspectives on governing international waters that are not within national territories. This represents an area of 64% of the world's oceans.

AQD scientist Dr. Ma. Rowena Eguia was one of the invited experts, presenting a paper on the Perspectives on the role of developing states in the sustainable use and management of marine genetic resources in global oceans. Genetic resources is considered the “common heritage of mankind.

In her presentation, Dr. Eguia emphasized the fact that even as a developing state with meager resources to conduct research, the Philippines has an important role in conducting relevant research in marine bioprospecting for drug development as she especially pointed out the efforts of renowned Filipino biochemist Dr. Baldomero Olivera who developed the first patented marine drug, an anti-pain one known as Ziconitide.

She also discussed the roles of SEAFDEC and AQD as a moving force in the sustainable use of marine fishery genetic resources in Southeast Asia by promoting responsible fisheries through the implementation of the Regional code of conduct for responsible fisheries.

Dr. Eguia’s earlier paper on Bioprospecting and management of Philippine marine genetic resources: issues and challenges read by a member of the Philippine Mission at the 8th Meeting of the United Nations Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) in June 2007 in New York created a stir as it tackled the sensitive issue on biopiracy in the Philippines. This led to her invite to the forum.

The Workshop on governance of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction: management issues and policy options was organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands; the National Parks Board, Singapore; and the University of Delaware Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy, with funding support from the Nippon Foundation-Japan, and the Global Environment Facility.

CHED, NRCP call on AQD expertise

On November 6, AQD attended the last Public hearing on the proposed policies and standards for Master of Science in Fisheries (MS Fi) at the invitation of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The hearing was held in Quezon City with AQD represented by scientist Dr. Ma. Lourdes Aralar of the Binangonan Freshwater Station (BFS).

The hearing was attended by deans and other representatives of fisheries schools in the country
and organized by CHED’s Technical Committee on Fisheries. Two committee members are AQD former Chiefs ~ Dr. Rogelio Juliano and Dr. Efren Ed. Flores.

It seems CHED will impose stricter policies for schools that are offering or planning to offer MS Fi. Graduates must be competent in research: from conceptualization to implementation of project proposals and publication of results in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Acknowledgment from the journal editor of manuscript submission is sufficient for graduation. In addition, graduates are also expected to be competent in technology verification. Deans, school chairs and a minimum six full-time faculty must have doctorate or master’s degrees, publications in refereed journals, and a license to practice the profession of Fisheries Technologist.

Consultative forum on basic research agenda
AQD was again invited to the Consultative forum for national integrated basic research agenda (NIBRA) organized by the National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) that was held 7 November in Pasay City. Attending for AQD were Dr. ML Aralar and Dr. Ma. Rowena Eguia, also of BFS.

NIBRA aims to cover immediate (2010), medium (2015) and long (2020) term periods; minimize duplication and maximize research; and involve all stakeholders with interest in the basic R&D in the country.

The forum invited Senator Edgardo Angara who encouraged NRCP members not to “waste too much time basic research” and go instead into applications. Because of limited resources, the focus, he said, must be on research that will immediately pay off and benefit the Filipinos.

Senator Angara specified four areas of research priority: biotechnology, information & communications technology, neurotechnology and nanotechnology. He also emphasized the importance of research on climate change and renewable sources of energy.

The AQD representatives joined the discussion in NRCP’s Cluster IV (biological sciences/ agriculture & forestry) as four parallel working sessions were conducted to review R&D resolutions.

Under Cluster IV, these were the identified priorities to be later presented to the Philippine President: (1) impact assessment of the introduction of exotic species in aquatic environment; (2) algae, in particular the biology, prevention and control of harmful algal blooms, biofuels and natural products from algae; (3) sustainable and environment friendly aquaculture, in particular, the biology and culture of indigenous species and environment friendly feeds and feeding management; (4) ornamental fish culture; (5) disease prevention, diagnosis; (6) fisheries management, ie. stock assessment, fishing technology, and studies on spawning grounds for sustainable management; and (7) post-harvest, ie. value addition and reduction of post harvest losses.

Trainees harvest grouper from cages in Misamis Occidental

A ceremonial harvest of 80 kg of grouper was made by the trainees of AQD’s season-long course on grouper cage culture in Misamis Occidental. The trainees showcased their fish for investors of the Mis Occ Aquamarine Park (MOAP, Sinacaban) who visited Governor Leo Ocampos on November 26.

The fish sold averaged 520 g each.The groupers (3,120 pieces) were frst stocked in marine cages on May 16, initially weighing 25 g or measuring 4 inches in total length on average. After about six months, survival is estimated at 90%. Buyers are now awaited for the rest of the stock.

The Mis Occ project is a component of AQD’s nation-wide Institutional capacity development for sustainable aquaculture project, and funded by PACAP-ACIAR and MOAVEC.

A special trainee on bacteria and 3 OJTs on infotech

A French national underwent a Special training on methods of bacterial isolation and identification from 24 to 27 November at AQD’s Tigbauan Main Station. He is Mr. Eric Vigne, the Chief Operating Officer of Genomar Supreme Philippines based in Pampanga.

Meanwhile, three students from the West Visayas State University are having their On-the-job training on information technology at the Development Communication Section and Library & DataBanking Services Section. The 400-hour training (3 Nov 08 ‘til 30 Jan 09) is a requirement for their degree BS Information Technology. They are Shella Grace Tanque, April Rose Ordoyo and Gibby Tropico.