October 16, 2018
A submersible fish cage technology of Japanese firm Nitto Seimo has attracted investment in Typhoon Yolanda-hit Samar and Leyte.
The Japanese technology is part of the Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) scheme called Partnership with the Japanese Private Sector that began in 2012. Under the scheme, JICA works with Japanese companies to bring their technologies relevant to the development needs of partner countries like the Philippines.
The submersible fish cages are made of high-density polyethylene and submerged by filling with seawater to avoid damage caused by wind and waves. Developed in Japan and customized to the Philippine setting through the project, they have durability and resistance against typhoons and red tide. The fish cages are expected to bridge the gap in fish production particularly when typhoons or natural disasters strike.
"Our partnership with Nitto Seimo shows that we can leverage on the technology made by Japanese companies to address development issues in the era of massive climate change", said JICA Representative Jin Hirosawa during the final project meeting held recently in Tacloban.
The fish cages help promote sustainable farming in Typhoon Yolanda areas like Basey, Guiuan, and Tacloban, ensuring 76% survival rate of fish stocks even during typhoons. When Typhoons Ruby and Urduja hit the region in 2014 and 2017 respectively, no damage was reported on said fish cages, whereas traditional fish cage operators suffered substantial losses in their grouper and milkfish stocks.
Several private investors have already rented the fish cages that allow them to give jobs to displaced fisher folks in Samar and Leyte. They have hired community members as care takers, harvesters, cage cleaners, net installers, and transporters of harvested milkfish. Nitto Seimo has also trained 178 fishermen and local government units (LGUs) on using the fish cages. The project is estimated to have created over 700 jobs.
According to Tacloban-based investor Vicente Ivan Bajarias, using the Nitto Seimo fish cage technology resulted not only in increased production but also income. A fish cage can generate 7-9 metric tons for every harvest. From harvesting, the fish are brought to a port where vendors can buy them in bulk.
Gertrudes Abuda, President of the Organisasyon ng mga Mahihirap ng Trinidad (OMANGAT) from Guiuan, Samar, added that the project was "a big help to the community, especially the women who now keep themselves occupied with harvest-related activities" after performing their household chores. It also provides them an alternative source of income for their families.
The association, mostly women, said the fish cage project gave women members an opportunity to participate in leadership roles. The women were in charge of marketing, processing, accounting, and bookkeeping aspects of the business. The men, on the other hand, took care of the hard labor such as submerging the fish cages and harvesting.
Fish cages are operated under three schemes, namely family-based fish farming where one family for every barangay operates the fish cage and the family receives the net profit; association-based, where profit is shared by members of the association; and private investor, where an investor rents the fish cages and hires caretakers.
As of June 2018, JICA has been implementing 60 projects in the Philippines under this scheme that covers sectors like agriculture, environment, and waste management.
The submersible fish cages deployed in Basey, Samar
Fisher folk harvesting milkfish in Basey, Samar