Celebrating the Lami-ang Bangus of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental

Dec 28, 2011

by Mike Banos

Balingasag, Misamis Oriental – Mayor Alexis Quina declared bangus as the town’s new One-Town, One Product (OTOP) during the LamBANGUS 2010 Harvest Festival on May 21-22, 2010.

 

Tasty, clean marine bangus for only P100/kg.

Ready for the festival.

“Together with coconut sugar, bangus is our new OTOP due to its potential and substantial contribution to the growth of the economy of Balingasag,” Quina said in a press conference following the launching of the festival.

A highlight of the festival was the availability of ten (10) metric tons of freshly harvested bangus for only P100.00 per kilo.
Launched in May, 2007 with P5 million seed money from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the local government, marine bangus is the star of the 195.07-hectare mariculture park which also allocates areas for aquaculture, mangroves, sea ranching, sea sanctuary and a navigation lane.


Fish cages   


Fish nets heavy with the harvest.

                                                                                                    

The municipal government of Balingasag passed a municipal ordinance declaring the area from Barangay Hermano to Brgy. 6 as a mariculture park. Some 11.5 hectares (has.) of the designated zone for aquaculture has been set aside for big players, 6.5 has. for small investors and two hectares reserved for fisherfolk affected by the project.

Fisherfolk have the option of coming in as investors (with the cost of fingerlings and feeds as their equity, cages and mooring system to be provided free by BFAR) either individually or as an association or cooperative. They can also seek employment as net cage fabricators, caretakers, net menders or harvesters with the big investors, with skills training to be provided by BFAR.
Three years ago, BFAR-10 initiated a one hectare mooring system with 30 units of 10 meter by10 meter cages. Pilot tests in Benoni, Camiguin demonstrated that one 10 X 10 meter fish cage can produce up to 4.8 metric tons (MT) of fish, compared to only 2MT for a one hectare fishpond.

Harvesting a fish cage during the 2nd Lambangus Festival.

From BFAR-10’s initial 30 cages, today the park has 91 locators who invested P35.8-million with 164 floating fish cages employing nearly 700 workers directly and indirectly. At 30 fish cages per hectare, the Balingasag Mariculture Park can accommodate up to 585 units of the standard 10-meters-by-10-meters fish cages.

Quina said up to 10MT of marine bangus weighing 400 gms and above are harvested every Tuesday and Friday. These are packed in ice and immediately shipped out by traders and processors to regular local markets in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Bukidnon and Cebu.

Last July 1, one of the park locators, WMC Trading and General Merchandise made its first shipment of 120 kgs. of fresh chilled whole round bangus to Hawaii which has been followed by another. A company officer said future shipments are planned for California, USA.


Bounty of the sea.


Sinugbang Bangus.

Quina hopes the industry can grow further with the operation of a P10 million processing plant which is nearing completion at a 4,000 sq.m. site in Bgy. Waterfall. The BFAR and LGU collaboration can produce processed fish products like daing, bulad or sardinas. Private sector investors also plan to establish an ice plant near the park.

Mariculture parks are the seaside equivalent of industrial estates which aim to attract investors by putting up basic infrastructure that would enable interested firms to fast-track the establishment and operation of their respective ventures. The project aims to address declining productivity of the capture fishing industry.

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