Philippine Freshwater Fisheries commodity at risk

January 15, 2021 – Virtual Forum organized by the Department of Science and Technology, National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines ( DOST- NAST Phl) entitled ” Commercially – caught freshwater fishes in the Philippines status, issues and recommendations”.

On it’s opening remark Academician (Acd.) Eufemio T. Rasco Jr. the Chairperson of Agricultural Sciences Division NAST Phl with Dr Angel B. Encarnacion- Outstanding Young Scientist 2014 at present as Senior Fishing Regulations Officer DA Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources served as moderator. 

The lecturer member Acd. Rafael D. Guerrero III of Agricultural Sciences Division NAST Phl and called “Father of the tilapia sex reversal” on his huge contribution on aquaculture and vermiculture.

According to  Acd. Guerrero freshwater fisheries include of fishes, mollusks and crustaceans in inland water like lakes, river, swamps and reservoirs mainly caught for food.

Data from International Union for Conservation of Nature freshwater fishes are more vulnerable to extinction compare to marine fishes.

The major threats to freshwater fishes are pollution, drainage of wetlands, channeling of rivers, forest deforestation, sedimentation, invasive species and over harvesting Guerrero added. 

On the PSA data 12% increase in production from 2005 to 2018 in top 5 inland fisheries producing region as follows: Region IV A ( CALABARZON) 41%, ARMM (Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao) 14.5%, Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN)  12%, Region III (Central Luzon) 10% and Region 2 ( Cagayan Valley) 5.1%.

Including on Guerrero presentation are 10 Most important Commercially caught freshwater fishes in 2017 with a value of over 3 billion pesos from PSA 2018 are: 1.Nile tilapia 50.0%, 2. Common Carp 15.4%, 3. Mudfish 11.0%, 4. Asiatic Catfish 6.6%, 5. Gourami 5.0%, 6. White Goby 3.8%, 7. Manila Catfish 2.6%, 8. Climbing perch 2.4%, 9. Silver Perch 1.7% and 10. Freshwater sardine ( sardinella tawilis) 1.6%.

Based on the finding nile tilapia is most abundant caught freshwater fish in all regions of the country. The silver perch has highest depletion rate among freshwater  fishes and freshwater sardine is the most critically endangered endemic fresh water fish found only in Lake Taal Batangas. While in conservating of endemic that saved from extinction of the “sinarapan” ( Misticthys luzunensis) known as the world smallest commercial fish at Lake Buhi, Camarines Sur. 

Guerrero also cited that the decimation and extinction of endemic cyprinids in Lake Lanao, Lanao del Sur. Decline in production of 18 cyprinids species from 981.13 MT in 1963-1964 to 22.7 MT in 1990-1991 with accidental introduction of indigenous eleotrid from Lake Mainit, Agusan del Norte. Other 15 species are now extinct the two barbodes stang and B. Lindog are critically endangered or possibly extinct. 

With the Government Initiative  DA BFAR the BASIL stand for Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa for 5 years with 209.28 million budget from 2018 until 2022 in reviving the Fisheries lakes, rivers and reservoirs located in upland and land locked areas where there is a deficiency of fish. Which enhance the Fisheries and repopulate indigenous fishes and support fish conservation, poverty alleviation and food security. 

From the reactor Dr. Maria Theresa M. Mutia, Chief Aquaculturist, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute. Agreed on Guerrero recommendations on the code of conduct fisheries part of it is RA 8550 or the clean water act, RA 8550 as amended by RA 10653 fisheries code, NIPAS Act RA 7586 of 1982 amended as E- NIPAS RA 11038 of 2018- protected area, natural parks which are under jurisdiction of DENR. Included here is the prohibition on the use and possession of destructive fishing gears within the protected seascape and National Wetlands Action Plan ( NWAP) for the nation is the guiding document to promote and implement strategies  for the conservation of wise use of it wetlands, in corporation urgent concern such as biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

Mutia put on the part of Taal Volcano Protected Landscapes Taal Lake which under DENR Protected Area Management Board included Tawilis protection and conservation among the measured are establishments of the Tawilis Reserve Area, Regulation of Mesh size and Close season for Tawilis fishing every March and April. 

Although other reactor is Dr Armi G. Torres- Post Doctoral Research Fellow Quantitative Aquatics Inc (Q- quatics) Los, Baños, Laguna emphasized that unsustainable fishing practices like catching, selling, buying and selling of baby fishes. The awareness of promoting fish harvest at sizes beyond their length at first maturity that will save freshwater species from extinction. 

Subsequently, Engr. Eduardo V. Manalili, Director of Inland Aquatic Resources Research Division of Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development ( DOST – PCAARRD) bring attention on the problem in fishing the benthic habitual loss use on motorized ” sudsod” in Laguna de Bay and major lakes. He also identified Invasive Alien Species like Janitor Fish, Knife fish, Gloria Tilapia and Jaquar Tilapia. And zonation in lakes between aquaculture verse open water fisheries area he cited example like Lake Bulan in Sorsogon have more than half of its area covered with fish pens and cages. 

Currently the Industry Strategic S&T Plans ( ISP of PCAARRD commodities are milk fish, shrimp, mangrove crab, Tilapia, mussel ( Black and brown), aqua feeds productiob of low cost feeds for Tilapia, milk fish and shrimps. Adding on the inland biodiversity projects(, ludong, eel, tawilis and goby). 

He also enumerate the biodiversity program of PCAARRD in conservation projects are ludong or lobed River mullet in Isabela. Before Ludong is most expensive or called President fish in President  Ferdinand Marcos time. Palos or eel and its 5 species in Cagayan and Bicol. Like eel before consider pest in Cagayan but now have a market in Taiwan. Tawilis or freshwater water sardine after Taal eruption in 2019.Goby or biya in Naujan Lake in Oriental Mindoro and Ayungin or Silver Perch still in pipeline. 

As of the moment according to Engr Manatili there are 32 on going projects in ISP- PCAARRD. 

Afterwards, the protection, mitigation, conservation, sustainability effort of the Scientists, stakeholders, academe, public politics actors will make a difference on the real flight of commercial freshwater as commodity at risk.  #PilipiNAST      CCFF                  

MJ OLVINA-BALAGUER of DZMJ Online, Makabuluhang Jornalismo your hapiness channel. +639053611058

DOST rallies behind ORAS PINAS, the new Filipino Time

To synchronize all timepieces across the country’s more than 7,100 islands, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) unveiled the new “ORAS PINAS” in compliance to the Philippine Standard Time (PST). Previously dubbed as “Juan Time”, the ORAS PINAS campaign aims to promote the PST nationwide and ‘sync’ timepieces with the PST, the new Filipino Time.
Every year, the DOST leads in the observance of the National Time Consciousness Week (NTCW) pursuant to Republic Act No. 10535 or The Philippine Standard Time (PST) Act of 2013.

The NTCW is being observed during the first week of January of every year to promote the value of time and the need to respect the time of others, so that the people may realize the imperative of synchronizing the official time.
With the theme “Synchronizing Filipino Time with ORAS PINAS”, the NTCW 2021 further aims to introduce ORAS PINAS as the new brand of the PST with the tagline, “One Nation, One Time: Pilipinas ON TIME”. Through the new brand, the campaign hopes to institutionalize the new Filipino culture of being always on time and having only one time as a nation.

The PST is set by the DOST’s Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the country’s official timekeeper since 1978 as mandated by Section 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 8.
DOST-PAGASA sets the timing system that consists of a rubidium atomic clock, a Global Positioning System receiver, a time interval counter, a distribution amplifier, and a computer. So, to synch your timepieces, just visit the DOST-PAGASA website ( and get the new Filipino Time!

DOST highlights 2020 pivot on health emergency, continues R&D 

 The year 2020, despite the challenges brought by natural and health hazards in a global scale, proved to be a defining moment for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The Science Department stepped up amidst the pandemic and its different initiatives have never been much sought after in the larger scale of things. In fact, the DOST, for its part, recalibrated some of its research and development (R&D) programs to give way to more pressing concerns in the country’s fight against COVID-19 while continuing other activities, true to its mandate, to address other socio-economic concerns using science, technology, and innovation (STI).
Health focus
At the onset, DOST led the sub-Technical Working Group on Vaccine Development of the Interagency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) which, worked on activities related to vaccine development, including the preparations for the phase 3 clinical trials.

The DOST is at the forefront of research and development to assist in the government’s response to the pandemic and is currently involved in the identification, evaluation, and recommendation of possible vaccine candidates for the Philippines.

To ensure access to global vaccine supply, the DOST immediately placed in motion its existing multilateral partnerships with various global organizations in the identification of foreign vaccine developers that would be willing to work with the Task Group and the Philippine government.

Aside from vaccine development, DOST spearheads the World Health Organization’s solidarity trials on vaccines and therapeutics.

Moreover, it supported the development of the first locally-made rt-PCR detection kit called GenAmplify, which is a formidable alternative to imported and expensive COVID-19 detection kits.

Meanwhile, clinical trials on several repurposed drugs, supplements and formulations such as virgin coconut oil, melatonin, lagunditawa-tawa, and convalescent plasma as supplementary treatments are being funded and closely being monitored by the DOST to find viable treatment options against COVID-19. 
Harnessing technology
 Technology played an important role in confronting COVID-19 and as result, a number of technology-driven innovations were developed through collaboration with different stakeholders.

The Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler (FASSSTER) uses a web-based disease modelling and surveillance platform that led to projecting the future course of COVID-19 infections. With its success, other Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Artificial Intelligence-driven models and applications were supported and deployed such as the Tracing for Allocation of Medical Supplies (TrAMS+) and Telepresence Terminals for COVID-19 Response Team.

On the other hand, the design, development and production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medical devices and accessories were initiated in collaboration with various government R&D and higher education institutions and the private sector partners.

Among the technologies and products developed under this scheme were the following: development of locally fabricated ventilators, powered air purifying respirators; specimen collection booths, GO-CLEAN disinfection chamber, LISA robot, mobile AI-enabled thermal scanners, nanotechnology-enhanced sanitizers, re-useable, washable and re-wearable face masks, 3-D printed venturi valves, ear loop holders, and filter attachment for oxygen concentrator masks.

The proposed establishment of the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) is a big step for the DOST. This initiative will serve as the country’s premier research center in the field of virology, encompassing all areas in viruses and viral diseases in humans, plants, and animals.
Banking on R&D to adopt to new normal
 As the search for the COVID-19 vaccine remains, the DOST continues to fund R&D activities through its Grants-In-Aid program on various R&D and basic research in agriculture, aquatic and natural resources, health, industry, alternative energy, and emerging technologies that are consistent with the Harmonized National R&D Agenda.

At the start of 2020, various R&D outputs and scientific services were top priority for the DOST when it launched the Big 20 in 2020.

The Big 20 in 2020 showcases various R&D initiatives that significantly impact the lives of Filipinos particularly in the areas of agriculture, enterprise technology, space science, genomics, mass transportation, development of smart cities, health and nutrition, disaster preparedness, nuclear technology, among others.

To fast track the roll out of quality R&D products in the country, despite the pandemic, the DOST set into motion the Science for Change (S4C) Program that includes the projects Niche Centers in the Regions for R&D (NICER), Collaborative R&D to Leverage PH Economy (CRADLE) and R&D Leadership (RDLead) Program.

In 2020 alone, the DOST approved eight NICER programs in collaboration with 12 higher education institutions (HEIs) with funding support amounting to Php448M. This brings the total number of NICERs approved to this date to 26 which are currently implementing 75 R&D projects in 34 HEIs across the 16 regions in the country. Total funding provided for the program is Php1.1B.

The NICER program further capacitates HEIs in the regions to make significant improvement in regional research by integrating its development needs with the existing R&D capabilities and resources.

On the other hand, the CRADLE program in CY 2020 recorded a total of 38 approved projects with aggregate budget allocation of PhP83.7M. Since the program started, the DOST has approved 63 CRADLE projects across 16 regions with accumulated approved funding of Php285M.

Under the CRADLE program, an industry partner identifies their problems requiring R&D to be performed by the academe or the R&D Institution (RDI). This strategy ensures that R&D provides solutions that exactly meet the unique needs of different industry.

The RD Lead program engaged 18 experts during the year bringing the total to 34 RD Leaders engaged that are now deployed in 32 institutions in 16 regions. The program engages experts with strong leadership and management and innovative policy-making proficiencies to be in charge of strengthening the research capabilities of higher education or R&D institutions.
Mobilizing regional presence
 Moreover, DOST, through its regional offices, launched new or revitalized programs in 2020. Among these programs were the Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines (iFWD PH); Innovation, Science and Technology for Accelerating Regional Technology-Based Development (iSTART); and the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program 4.0.

The iFWD PH program is implemented by the regional offices that aims to provide a package of S&T interventions, enhance the capability of qualified Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in conceptualizing technology-based businesses and preparing business plans, and assist OFWs in establishing and managing technology-based enterprises.

On 30 October 2020, a total of 59 OFWs successfully graduated from Phase 1 of the program where they were provided with trainings on the development and management of technology-based enterprises. Preparatory sessions for the Phase 2 of the program were also conducted that includes technical consultancies and training-workshop on product development, and process mapping, among others.

On the other hand, the iSTART program seeks to support the balancing of geographical development by accelerating regional growth through science, technology, and innovation. Through the program, DOST will assist the local government units in developing a technology-based development plan for agriculture-based, manufacturing, and services sectors.

Capitalizing on the gains of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), and considering several factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the DOST regional offices continued to extend assistance to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and came up with an upgraded version of the program called SETUP 4.0. This time, the focus is on the industry level to allow different sectors to adopt technologies in a synergistic manner that will fuel economic development by strengthening the MSMEs from the core.

As the tumultuous year ended, the DOST remains at the forefront of engaging Filipinos, resilient as they are, to adopt local technologies and innovations and assures the public in general that they can depend on science to provide the appropriate solutions for most of the country’s concerns.