Quezon City, Philippines – September 9, 2021 – The National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) conducted its 9th Fisheries Scientific Conference (FishSciCon) on September 1-8, 2021, via virtual platform to promote discussions on different advances in fisheries studies.
With the theme, “Pangisdaan ay Paunlarin, Pananaliksik ay Gamitin upang Masaganang Ani at Mataas Na Kita ay Makamit Natin,” this year’s SciCon aims to provide a venue for national and international researchers, students, and stakeholders in the field of fisheries to present relevant research and advancements towards attaining sustainable fisheries and food security. The conference revolved around four sector sessions: Aquaculture, Capture Fisheries, Fisheries Postharvest, and Cross-cutting Themes.
The week-long event kicked off with an opening ceremony featuring messages from the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, DA Undersecretary, and NFRDI Governing Board Chair USec. Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero, NFRDI Acting Executive Director Dr. Lilian Garcia, CESO V, BFAR National Director Commodore Eduardo Gongona PCG (Ret) and key players of the conference. In his keynote address, Sec. Dar emphasized the importance of the SciCon to improve fisheries management initiatives in the Philippines.
Eight books were also launched during the opening program: Freshwater Eel: Culture Industry Practices in the Philippines and seven Fish Guide books, which had been published as an offshoot of the National Stock Assessment Program, the joint project of BFAR Region 5 and NFRDI. The book on eel is the first to document various industry practices, including glass eel collection, nursery and grow-out culture, and marketing. On the other hand, the seven guide books give us a glimpse of all the finfish resources that the waters in Region 5 have to offer.
Meanwhile, 78 poster abstracts were accepted for this year’s SciCon. Twenty-three posters qualified for the Aquaculture category, 25 for the Capture Fisheries, 13 for the Fisheries Postharvest, and 17 for the Cross-cutting themes.
The conference’s plenary and sector sessions featured national and international experts in marine science and fisheries. For Aquaculture plenary session, Dr. Anicia Hurtado of Integrated Services for the Development of Aquaculture and Fisheries (ISDA Inc.) talked about “Safeguarding the Future of the Seaweed Industry of the Philippines,” where she highlighted the accomplishments of the Global Seaweed Star Philippines and practical solutions to the threat in seaweeds. During the Capture Fisheries plenary session, Dr. Elizabeth Mendenhall of the University of Rhode Island, USA, discussed the impacts of marine plastic pollution in the environment. For the postharvest session, Ms. Yaa Tiwaa Amoah of Postharvest Unit Fisheries Commission Ghana presented the “Evolution of Fish Smoking Ovens: The Ghana Story.” Ms. Amoah examined the story of fisherfolks and women’s participation in the fisheries industry in Ghana and the technology innovation that can help the industry prevent postharvest losses to generate more income for the sector. Lastly, for the cross-cutting themes, Dr. Rhoda Mae Simora of the University of the Philippines Visayas explained the study entitled, “CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing as a Game Changer in Fish Biotechnology.” She talked about CRISPR/Cas9, its origin, mechanisms, promising applications, and its advantages to the fisheries sector.
Moreover, one of the highlights of this year’s SciCon was the Spotlight Presentation. Spotlight Presentation Competition is an oral presentation of thesis or dissertation of recipients of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Fisheries Scholarship Program: Industry Leaders Grant (IL) and Fisherfolk Children Educational Grant (FCEG). Having been an integral part of SciCon since 2018, this competition offers an opportunity for young scientists to present their work to the scientific community and provide an interactive venue for academic exchange. Out of 29 abstract entries received from 12 universities across the country, the committee selected the top five finalists to present at the conference. Ms. Ivy Jinky Briones from Visayas State University-Tolosa won 1st place for her study, “Evaluation of Antibacterial Property of Chitosan and Modified Chitosan from Cuttlefish (Sepia spp.) Bone Against Vibrio spp.” Ms. Eraiza Kim Sese of Western Philippines University received second place, while Mr. Whelver Surnido of the University of the Philippines Visayas gained third.
Video-on-demand presentations of the speakers and spotlight presenters are available for access on NFRDI’s website: nfrdi.da.gov.ph/scicon.
As part of its mission to be a leader in fisheries research and development in the Philippines, the NFRDI continues to develop programs that will further engage its stakeholders geared towards improving and protecting the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources.
Ira Y. Cruz
Education Section, NFRDI