BFAR-7 restocks Loboc river with 62T genetically enhanced tilapia
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, May 8 (PIA) — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Bohol is restocking Loboc River with genetically enhanced tilapia (GET) fish developed after a series of breeding selections.
Speaking during the Kapihan sa PIA on celebrating Month of the Ocean (#MOO2020) in times of coronavirus pandemic, BFAR Bohol Fishery Officer Candido Samijon explained that they are restocking as Loboc River has already stocks of native tilapia.
Acting on the request from the Municipal Government of Loboc, Samijon said Bohol BFAR responded as most town residents are engaged in tourism activities, but the COVID-19 pandemic has suspended operations, prompting more residents to go to the river for food.
While the river has also other fish varieties especially those that thrive in the brackish water, there have been tilapias among the daily catch, Samijon said during the radio forum.
Samijon said that tilapia has been in Loboc river since then, and those that escape the fish cages found in the upper river tributaries could also add up to the fish stocks downriver.
Native tilapia are usually smaller in size, reproduces slower, and has that distinct fishy smell, he shared.
What BFAR did was to restock the river with 62,000 tilapia fingerlings of a better breed.
By better breed, BFAR used tilapia species from Clarin Freshwater Fish Farm, one of BFAR’s Field facilities in Bohol.
According to Samijon, their Clarin facility breeds tilapia from selecting better breeds with better meat, easier to farm and losing certain characteristics like the fishy tilapia smell.
GET is among Clarin facility’s the main “products.”
Selective breeding has also happened in chicken, in several plants and animals, all of these done through a process called genetic enhancement not by chemicals but altering some characteristics to better suit the needs of communities through selection of good breeds.
On April 21, BFAR-7 Regional Director Dr. Allan Poquita along with Samijon and Bohol BFAR, transported the genetically enhanced tilapia fingerlings to Loboc where Mayor Leon Calipusan and town officials met them.
Form the Loboc Tourism Center, the group along with BFAR’s fingerlings cruised to the upper reaches of Loboc river, where the fingerlings were released.
The BFAR action generated support as well as criticism, citing the fear of invasion among local species, knowing that tilapia can be invasive.
Over this, Samijon assured that the genetically enhanced tilapia is still freshwater tilapia and would have the tendency to stay in the upper reaches of the river because the fish can not tolerate salty water.
If there are tilapia that would go down to the brackish water, another study has shown that salt water affects tilapia reproduction, Samijon said.
With BFAR supporting the government’s food security program, the bureau turns over stock fingerlings to several fishery-managed areas in the region.
BFAR-7 expressed hope that this intervention will help augment the livelihood of the residents as well as increase fish supply in the area. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)