Press Release
March 24, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called for more government support in using science and technology to develop better tools to help fisherfolk know when to harvest and avoid massive fishkills that hit aquatic pens.

Angara made the statement in light of a new project that was launched in Lake Palakpakin in San Pablo, Laguna which would enable fisherfolk to harvest fish before an impending fishkill by monitoring oxygen levels using S&T tools.

The project, "A Broadband Farm to Market Ecosystem for Fisherfolk Communities" was launched by the Ateneo de Manila University and uses underwater cameras to monitor fish health.

Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), said that fish kills are commonly caused by low or a lack of oxygen in the water.

The Ateneo Innovation Center demonstrated several new technologies that address the critical problem for fisherfolk, like the occurrence of fish kills several times a year. They use technology like WiMax and Plug Computers.

According to the project implementers, the fish die mainly because of lack of oxygen in the lake. The Ateneo team showed that the during a fish kill the life sustaining oxygen is only a meter deep, which reportedly came as a shock to the local fisher folk of Lake Palakpakin.

The researchers from engineering and environmental science designed a floating field sever than can roam around the lake and measure water clarity, dissolved oxygen, temperature versus depth, and even take videos of the fish movement. All the measured parameters are fed over a wireless sensor network to a data center in the community.

In this way local people can monitor the health of the lakes system. The local people want to make aquaculture, agriculture and ecotourism viable livelihood options for the future.

The fishermen reportedly found the underwater cameras were very useful in assuring their fish nets were properly containing their catch.

Angara said that in the future this ecosystem will be linked to communities in Thailand and Japan, so the lessons learned Lake Palakpakin can be shared with our neighboring countries.

Angara added that technology helps empower the fisher folk and allows them to protect their livelihood. He noted that the recent fish kill that hit Taal Lake that caused over 2 million in losses, the 5 million worth of fish lost in Legazpi City are good examples of severe fish kills that devastated the local fishing communities.

The Ateneo program is part of a cooperative project sponsored by the Asia Pacific Telecommunity organization of Japan. Partnering organizations include Ateneo de Manila University, COMSTE, Department of Transportation and Communication- Telecommunications Office (DOTC-TELOF), National Electronics and Computer Technology (NECTEC) Thailand, Japan Radio Corporation, and NTT Japan.

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