SAN FERNANDO CITY – Aside from generating power and irrigating rice land, there's a third use for the water of the San Roque Dam in San Manuel town – to grow fish in cages.

The cages will be established at the 70-hectare re-regulating pond which catches water used by the power plant generator and where water is stocked until needed for irrigation purposes. The project would be giving additional benefit to the farmers as whatever organic materials generated by the fish culture would serve as organic fertilizer to the rice farms, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ilocos Regional Director Nestor Domenden said The project of the BFAR is in coordination with the local government of San Manuel and the National Irrigation Administration which is in charge of the re-regulating pond.Domenden said a 1,000 square
meter- demonstration cage will be placed at the re-regulating pond within the month and would be manned by the selected cooperators from San Manuel who are interested in fish culturae.

"This will be a techno-demo cage so the BFAR will be closely monitoring the operations and coaching the cooperators for two to three
cropping seasons, until they would have learned the technology," Domenden said. But only ten percent, or seven hectares, of the re-regulating pond would be utilized for fish cages," he said.

The demonstration cage will be stocked with tilapia fingerlings, but other fish species that would be found suitable may also be cultured later, he said. To be initially cultured are 150,000 tilapia fingerlings or 50 pieces per cubic meter. For the demonstration phase, the BFAR will provide fingerlings and commercial feeds to the cooperators and whatever amount that would come from the sale of harvested fish would accrue to them, Domenden said.But they would need to keep a portion of the money as, after the demonstration phase, they would have to buy the fingerlings and the feeds, he added.

he BFAR has been stocking the dam proper with one million tilapia fingerlings every year.
Unlike the fish cage in the re-regulating pond however, no commercial feeds is used at the dam proper as organic materials may affect the turbine of the power plant.

"The fish have to make do with natural food like algae," he said.It's a controlled fishing at the dam proper, in the sense that the identified individuals who would harvest the fish have to conditions of the plant management, he added. (YZS)

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