Eel: The Sunrise Industry
Quezon City. The eel industry of the Philippines has already been in existence long before studies were conducted about it. When the population of the Japanese eel Anguilla japonica began to decline, the Philippines became the source of glass eels of Anguilla bicolor pacifica, the alternative species for A. japonica. The export of glass eels steadily grew from the early 2000s until 2012, when the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 242 was passed, banning the export of glass eels and juvenile eels (kuroko) below the legal size of 6 inches. With the passing of the ordinance, the culture of eels from glass eels to kuroko in the Philippines began.
A lot of eel farms were already in operation long before the implementation of FAO 242. Different technologies were implemented in different farms. Each farm has its own water exchange and filtration system, feeding scheme, and farm design. There is no uniform or standard method in the culture of eels. Survival rates were also different in each farm, ranging from as low as 30% to 60%. In fact, there is very limited literature present regarding the eel industry in the Philippines.
With the current status of the Philippine industry, the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), through project leader Mr. Francisco F. Santos, spearheaded the first ever efforts in documenting the different culture technologies and practices of eel culture. The project also involved the tracing of the different major players of the industry, such as glass eel collectors and consolidators, growers, traders and exporters. Furthermore, problems on culture technologies and policy implementation were also gathered and will be evaluated in order to formulate recommendations on how the industry could be improved.
Preliminary results of the study showed many flaws in the culture systems and industry practices, as well as on policy implementation. At the conclusion of the study, NFRDI will invite representatives from the local governments, private sector as well as the academe to participate in a seminar where the results of the study will be presented. It is expected that the seminar will become a venue for discussions that could benefit the growth and improvement of the industry.
Report from: Aquaculture Research and Development Division