D.O.S.T., U.P. projects to ensure sustainable mussel production

Green mussel, locally known as tahong, is the only species of mussel being cultured commercially in the Philippines. A challenge that hinders sustainability of mussel production is the insufficient supply of seed stock.

Mussel farmers rely mainly on seeds gathered from the wild. However, due to the impacts of natural and human influences, mussel spats from natural beds are now becoming scarce and could hardly support the requirement of the growers.

To address the problem of low production of mussel spats, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), funded the Mussel Hatchery Project.

The project, which was implemented by the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) in Miagao, Iloilo, aimed to develop technologies to ensure a reliable supply of mussel spats for grow-out production.

Mussel spats are very young shellfish, which are the raw material of mussel farms. They develop from a floating larval stage, which attach themselves to seaweed or ropes and develop into miniature shellfish

Following the method established by the project, the transport of broodstock from the natural mussel ground to the UPV hatchery, that ranges from seven to 36 hours after harvest, attained a high survival rate of 98 percent.  The “warm water-spawning technique” was employed and consistently exhibited good results.

Transitioning from “D-hinged” to “early spat” stage of about 1mm provided more than 4-percent survival rate, which was higher than that obtained in other Asian countries, with only 1 percent to 2 percent. The spent spawners were rematured by restocking them in the natural environment.

Mussel farmers, entrepreneurs, vendors, middlemen, processors, researchers, technicians, extension workers, policy-makers and consumers are set to benefit from this project. The Mussel Hatchery Project was initially led by Dr. Liberato V. Laureta Jr. After his retirement, Dr. Mary Jane A. Amar, also from the Institute of Aquaculture, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, UPV, took over the leadership.

14 potential sites for mussel culture

A project funded by the DOST-PCAARRD has identified 14 locations, measuring a total of 6,283.30 hectares as potential sites for mussel culture. This was a result of a project that aimed to increase mussel production through identifying potential sites for mussel culture in the country.

The project, “Suitability assessment and database development for enhanced mussel-culture management using geospatial technologies,” is being implemented by the UPV and UP Diliman, under the leadership of Dr. Carlos C. Baylon of UPV, Miagao, Iloilo.

The project aims to identify potential sites that favor the hydrographic and biophysical conditions for mussel growth. Identification of suitable and potential areas for mussel culture could provide areas for expansion of mussel culture, leading to an increased mussel production.

Additional mussel-growing areas can then lead to a more sustainable mussel industry, which can help in addressing national issues like food security, livelihood and poverty alleviation.

Using geospatial technologies, 14 sites were identified, which include Hagnaya, Cebu (122 hectares); Calape, Bohol (680 hectares); Misamis Occidental, particularly in Murcielagos and Panguil Bay (512.50 hectares); Placer, Surigao del Norte (71.5 hectares); Sagay, Negros Occidental (1,390 hectares); Bais, Negros Oriental (1,300 hectares); Marinduque (1,098 hectares); Buguey, Cagayan (34.3 hectares); Davao in Mati City and Panabo (990 hectares); and Bislig, Surigao del Sur (100 hectares).

These are being validated by overlaying other information, such as road accessibility, navigational lane, presence of corals and sea grasses, red-tide history, source of spats, pollution and tourism. As such, these sites can be utilized as expansion areas for green-mussel culture to increase production in the Philippines. Available satellite data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and European Space Agency have been used to develop models for identifying suitable sites.

Water parameters such as temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, salinity and chlorophyll a were collected from representative areas in the country. The criteria were also set to serve as basis for classification of sites. Using the data gathered, maps were created showing the different parameters and specific areas suitable for mussel culture.

To make the information accessible, the data gathered will then be incorporated in a database and will soon be posted online through an interactive web site for the use of mussel farmers/growers, local government officials and private individuals.

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