Experts kicks off lobster feeding trial in Eastern Visayas

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TACLOBAN CITY — Experts will start this week the six-month feeding trials for lobsters, in preparation for the culture of this high-value marine products in poor Eastern Visayas communities.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Director Juan Albaladejo said on Tuesday the study is necessary to ensure the sustainability of lobster culture in the region.

“We need supplemental feeds and not just depend on wild catch to feed the juvenile and grown-ups. Although we have enough resources to feed lobsters, we have to mix it with complementary foods to achieve desired growth,” Albaladejo said.

A memorandum of understanding have been signed between the BFAR, Winrock International, James Cook University in Australia, and Bulacan-based Santeh Feeds Corp. for the feeding study.

Winrock, a non-government organization, get funding support from the US Department of Agriculture.

The feeding experiment using sardines, shellfish, and pellets, will look into the feed conversion rate of lobster.

Specifically, it seeks to measure the efficiency, with which lobster convert feeds into the desired output.

“We have enough resources in the region to support the lobster production unlike in Dinagat Island where they have to feed their lobsters with aquarium fish, starfish, and any kind of shellfish,” said Albaladejo.

BFAR will bring the lucrative lobster culture to poor communities in Eastern Visayas with the setting up of 250 cages starting this year.

Lobster aquaculture will be established in Eastern Samar, Southern Leyte, and Northern Samar, Albaladejo added.

“This is inclusive growth since the target of this program are poor fishermen. A fisherman can earn up to PHP150,000 a year from lobster culture, above than the requirement to graduate from poverty,” Albaladejo said.

Lobster culture is very ideal considering its relatively high price at PHP4,000 per kilogram, BFAR said.

The marine product grows at one kilogram within 20 months. There is a strong demand from China and Taiwan, with high preference for live lobsters.

The program will provide cages and feeds to beneficiaries. A fishermen can raise up to 100 lobster juveniles in a cage. Feeds will be sourced out from sardine-rich areas in Northern Samar province.

The PHP10 million program will capture puerulus (post-larval stage) from the wild that are transported long distance by ocean current. It is estimated that sea current brings about six million puerulus to the country every year, where they look for suitable habitat. -PNA

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