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CASAT conducts seminar on Mariculture of sea urchin

To improve the production of the sea urchin in La Virgen Milagrosa, Badoc, the College of Aquatic Sciences and Applied Technology (CASAT) conducted a one day seminar in June 15 to sea urchin growers and fishers in said barangay.  This activity was anchored on the need to capacitate the fisherfolks of the locality with enhanced method of growing sea urchin in plastic cages to boost production for local and global demands.   The opening ceremony was attended by Sangguniang Bayan Members Janice Gorospe, Zenaida Idnay and Jayson Rubio; Dr. Aris Reynold V. Cajigal, and Prof. Andres Y. Tungpalan, both from MMSU. 

Mariculture is a promising venture for increased production of sea urchins as the scape of the area is ideal culture site. The species being an abundant natural food, serve as an alternative and addition to fisheries, and source of food and income. Sea urchins are one of the most economically valuable invertebrates in the world for their edible ‘gonads’ or ‘roe’. These organisms, belonging to the marine aquatic group called echinoderms are found in shallow coastal waters, congregating on rocks, seagrass beds, sandy bottoms, and coral reefs, thus, making the contours and scape of La Virgen, and Ilocos in general, suitable for its growth and production.

The need to meet the demand for sea urchin in both the local and global markets necessitates the development of extensive fishery enhancement techniques such as on-site and land-based aquaculture, gonad enhancement through prepared diet feeding, and others. To date, sea urchin fishery serves as a major source of livelihood in many coastal villages particularly along the northwestern coast of Luzon Island and in the Bicol region.  Presently, an increase in the mariculture of this species along the coasts of Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte is being observed and sold at Php 50–150/kg with shell. With this ground, the potential income for growing sea urchins is an alluring invitation given the available target recipients of the produce.

The mariculture seminar of sea urchin Tripneustesgratilla (Linnaeus, 1758) in plastic cages at La Virgen Milagrosa, Badoc capacitated the fisherfolks with the knowledge and skill in the continuing growth and production of sea urchins. Dr. Facundo B. Asia and Dr. Veronica O. Grande, both from CASAT, shared valuable information in the feeding and maintenance of the species highlighting the use of Sargassum spp as a natural food of sea urchins grown in cages since these are abundantly available in the locality and has significantly given higher growth rate to (Garvida & Asia, 2004). It was also emphasized that feeding can be done twice or thrice a week with enougn food given (ad libitum) and that cleaning of cages must be done before feeding. After 3-4 months culture period, the matured sea urchins with equatorial test diameters ranging from 7-8 cm and weighing an average of 120 grams can already be harvested. Finally, harvest can be marketed fresh to local consumers. (Edna Pascua, CASAT)

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