Eel culture Technology Verification seen as first step towards export market
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – The fisheries bureau in Region 02 provided 180,000 pieces elvers (Anguilla spp.) to fish farmers in Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya as part of the collaborative Technology Verification (TV) trial on eel culture.
Co-operators of the TV trial are selected fish farmers who are members of the newly registered Cagayan Valley Aquaculture Producers Cooperative (CVAPCo) based in Isabela province, specifically from Ramon, Echague, Cauayan City and San Mateo, and a fish farmer from Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya.
While BFAR RO2 provided the elvers (young eel) which were procured from gatherers in Aparri, the facilities and inputs are shouldered by the cooperators.
“Partnering with individual fish farmers who have the capital and with Isabela State University – Echague, which serves as main technology source, is the best way for us to undertake culture studies for this locally-abundant but new aquaculture species that has high export potential,” Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources – Region 02 Regional Director Dr. Milagros C. Morales said.
While Region 02 has been a big source of elvers in previous years with price reaching as high as Php 45,000 per kilo in the export market, this lucrative industry has been put to a halt due to reimposition of the ban on export as embodied under Fisheries Administrative Order 242.
This regulation was issued to forestall issues of over-exploitation due to the high export price.
This TV trial will enable the region to re-enter the export market. Sizes allowed for export, which are more than 15 cm will be made available thru the TV trial, and thus enable local farmers to earn more up the eel value chain, Dr. Evelyn Ame, eel focal person of BFAR RO2, said.
“The bureau will monitor and document the culture techniques of each cooperator and select the best technology in terms of profitability, which will then be disseminated to fisherfolk,” Ame added.
Among the 16 Anguilla species in the world, A. marmorata, A. bicolor, A. japonica, A. celebesensis, and A. luzonensis, which are all economically important, are found in Cagayan Valley Region.
As stated in the project proposal, glass eels are cultured in tanks up to Kuroko size (15 cm) following all site selection protocols. At least two tanks measuring 1.2m width x 3.0m length x 0.8 m height can be used to culture 28,800 pcs. elvers at 5,000 pcs. per cubic meter stocking density.
Small aquatic worm (Tubifex sp.) is an ideal first feed for elvers and, after two or three days, commercial feed is added progressively until the tenth day, when only a paste of minced fish is given.
Eels are fed twice a day, in the morning and afternoon to ensure its rapid growth.
Later, glass eels during developmental stages can be fed with high-energy and protein-rich artificial feed. Elver starts to feed at 15°C water temperature and its metabolism starts at 23-28°C. Eels are nocturnal feeders, so the feeding spot is usually covered with boards or other suitable materials, to make it as dark as possible. A 50-60% protein content diet is recommended for elvers while 40-45% protein content for sub-adult eels.
Harvest can be done after six (6) months to one (1) year culture period. Live kuroko eels are sold locally or exported for aquaculture and can be valued as high as Php. 25-50/piece in the market.
Aeron D. Mayor / Max Prudencio, BFAR RO2 FIS