Blue mussels 'bane' to fish farming in Dagupan

DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan -- The blue mussels introduced in Dagupan rivers a few years ago are now considered a bane to local fish farmers raising signanid (malaga) and grouper (lapu-lapu).

Marvin Asis of the City Agriculture Office (CAO) said the blue-lipped mussels, which multiply rapidly, stick to the nets of fish cages and hinder the flow of water to the pens.

He told the City Council, during a committee hearing on the proposed Dagupan Comprehensive Development Plan for 2018 to 2022 on Tuesday, that many fish pens are no longer operating in some rivers of Dagupan because fish farmers cannot afford to change their nets all the time.

Fish farmers in Dagupan City earlier consider the blue-lipped mussels as allegedly invasive species, as its shell and meat are a little smaller than common brown and black mussels normally being raised in commercial quantity in the coastal waters of western Pangasinan.

The brown and black mussels are susceptible to red tide that usually occurs in western Pangasinan where the water becomes much salty during summer.

On the other hand, blue mussel is intolerant to salty environment and thrives only in brackish water that is plentiful in Dagupan City.

However, Westly Rosario, chief of the Dagupan-based National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center (NIFTDC), does not consider the blue-lipped mussels as bane but rather a boon.

He said aside from being a good source of protein food, the blue-lipped mussels can give birth to two other profitable industries in Dagupan—duck- and crab-raising.

Rosario said the blue-lipped mussels now abundant in rivers of Dagupan can be reduced into powder and become feeds to the ducks. The farmers will no longer need to buy expensive commercial feeds.

On the other hand, the blue mussels, even if not pulverized, can also be used as feeds for crabs, citing the first crab farm in Dagupan owned by former Speaker Jose De Venecia located in Sitio Watac, Barangay Mamalingling, Dagupan City.

Previously, Dagupan has no mussels until this was introduced by a local fish entrepreneur in his farm some four years ago and which soon spread rapidly.

Fish farmers have earlier asked the City Government for help in fighting the uncontrollable spread of blue mussels in rivers, which they said affected their production of milkfish (bangus) and other species. (PNA)