Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Filipino invention lets fish live without water

Business Mirror

PILI, Camarines Sur—Ever heard of fish living without water all day long?

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office for Bicol is actually adopting a technology that would preserve the life of commercial fish and let it live 10 to 18 hours in containers without water.

The agency has recently forged an agreement on the use of the Buhi Waterless Fish Transport Technology (BWFTT) with its inventor, Bonifacio Comandante Jr., a multiawarded scientist.

Comandante presented his invention to BFAR, researchers and fish traders from Albay and Camarines Sur.

The invention, according to BFAR regional director Dennis del Socorro, makes possible the transport of live fish species such as grouper, shrimp, snapper, seabass, tilapia, pompano, milkfish, shellfish, as well as tiger prawn and crab for many hours without water.

Comandante, Del Socorro said, begged off from divulging the secret of his invention but demonstrated how he could make fish hibernate or sleep then quickly revive itself once brought back to water.

The technology, however, requires a favorable environmental condition for live fish to be preserved for longer periods of time out of water, he said.

During the presentation, the world-class inventor, who is a native of Siquijor but presently resides in the lake town of Buhi, Camarines Sur, successfully tested the waterless live-fish technology on salmon that lived through a 12-hour transportation period, and yellow fin tuna and abalone within 14 to 18 hours.

BFAR national director Malcolm Sarmiento, who witnessed how the invention worked, said the it is a major breakthrough for the fisheries sector.

He said continuous tests would have to be conducted to ensure that no harmful residues are found in the fish although initial laboratory tests conducted by BFAR in validating the technology including necropsy and pathology showed no traces of toxins or abnormalities in the fish.

This technological breakthrough in live fish transport would give fish traders from Bicol a competitive advantage and savings in the cost of live-fish shipment where water, which composes 75 percent of the shipment weight, would no longer be needed.

Fish caught from most parts of the Bicol region are traded in as far as Metro Manila and that require 12 to 14 hours of land transportation.

The technology has been proven effective by several companies like the Saranggani Farms, Vitarich and Century PG, all clients of Buhi Marine Worldwide Supply Inc., which Comandante heads as president. Buhi Marine provides waterless live- fish transport services to these companies.

Comandante is an agricultural engineer who graduated from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the Asian Social Institute and Coastal Resources Management of Siliman University.

He is also a candidate for a doctorate degree in Marine Biology and currently taking up doctoral studies in Applied Cosmic Anthropology.

Among the awards he received for his innovations are: finalist in the World Bank Development Market Place in Washington D.C., USA (2007); winner of the Philippine Emerging Start-ups Open Biz Plan Challenge (2007); winner of the World Bank Development Panibagong Paraan in Manila (2006); Pillar of Agricultural Development Award by the Department of Agriculture (2006); Inventor’s Award by the Galing Pilipino Movement (2006); Best International Business Award of the University of San Francisco (2005); Outstanding Creative Research Award of the Department of Science and Technology (2005); and Innovations Award of the Department of Trade and Industry (2005).

He was also featured in the Go Negosyo Book of 2007 as one of the 50 successful Filipino entrepreneurs with inspiring stories.

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