Some 246 metric tons of bangus were harvested from the Balingasag Mariculture Park in Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental, registering total sales of P22.12 million in the last four months this year, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Office 10.
This, after the 120-day production exceeded the halfway mark of last year’s harvest of 432.52 metric tons which were valued at P38.93 million, a marked increase from 2007 measly 44.42 metric-ton output.
BFAR 10 Regional Director David Ernacio said the bangus that are being harvested from the 514 floating fish cages inside the Balingasag Mariculture Park find their way to the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Malaybalay, Valencia and even as far as Cebu since last year.
Director Ernacio said that from the time the 197.07-hectare mariculture park was established on March 19, 2007 with only 36 units of fish cages inside a one-hectare area, more and more investors came in.
That day, there was simultaneous stocking of 10,500 pieces of bangus fries inside the fish cages. Since then, fish production structures vary in its material, designs and capacities.
Those made of galvanized iron which are square in shape come in 10x10x5 and 20x10x5 sizes while those of bamboo material are in 10x10x5 and 5x5x5 sizes.
He recalled that it was at that time when the mariculture zone was delineated with a navigational lane that encloses the coastal waters of Barangays Poblacion 6, Baliwagan, Binitinan, Hermano and Waterfall.
The entire area was further segregated as aquaculture, sea ranching, mangrove and fish sanctuary areas.
Just recently, fish cages made out of high density polyethylene pipes (HDPE), better known as Norwegian cages, which measure from 10x10x5 in square shape to 10 cubic meter and 20 cubic meter circular shapes could accommodate from 18,000 to 28,800 kilos of bangus.
The setting up of a mariculture park was then under the direct supervision of former BFAR 10 regional director Arlene B. Pantanosas after its was conceptualized by Agriculture Undersecretary Jesus Emmanuel M. Paras and BFAR National Director Malcolm Sarmiento.
Director Ernacio said that, as of April 22 this year, total investments from private individuals and corporations have reached P149.15 million.
This, after the national government through BFAR and the municipal government of Balingasag poured in a total of P3.86 million and P2 million, respectively, for the establishment and development of the mariculture park.
So far, six big-time players in bangus industry are maintaining 294 fish cages, the 73 medium-sized investors have 144 units, while 10 more fish cages are leased to small-time investors.
Also, both BFAR 10 and the municipal government of Balingasag operate two fish cages each.
Aside from generating investments, the Balingasag Mariculture Park employs some 676 workers in the maintenance of structures, in feeding the fries and in harvesting of full-grown bangus that could weigh from 500 to 800 grams each.
Despite the growing demand for bangus, farm-gate price remains at P90 per kilo.
This is so because the Balingasag Mariculture Park Investors Association (BMPIA) wants to keep the price of bangus at affordable level as well as in ensuring returns of investments, according to Balingasag mayor Alexis Quina during the inaugural staging of the LamBangus Harvest Festival on May 21, this year.
“It will not take long, Balingasag will be known as the bangus capital in Northern Mindanao and even the entire Mindanao,” said Misamis Oriental Governor Moreno who graced the festival together with his brother, interior and local government assistant secretary Emeterio S. Moreno.