Research Opportunities for Fisheries and Aquaculture

Opportunities for fisheries and aquaculture research extends far and wide beyond food production and resource management. This was highlighted by Herbanext President Philip S. Cruz in a lecture entitled “Going Natural: Research Opportunities for Aquatic Products” delivered last March 4, 2011 at the University of the Philippines College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences (CFOS). An alumnus of CFOS, Mr. Cruz discussed with professors, researchers, and students the huge global market for functional and organic foods, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, and eco-handicrafts, which to date the Philippine fisheries and aquaculture industry has yet to tap. While seafoods are generally considered healthy foods due to its high omega-3 fatty acid content, the market is now looking for even healthier aquatic products which offer greater health benefits and less of the health risks associated with chemical residues from intensive farming. Except for seaweeds, the Philippines exports very little aquaculture products making the industry largely unaware of new market opportunities.

Mr. Cruz presented on the possible use of numerous local herbs and spices as a source of bioactive compounds that improve taste and protect human health, pytochemicals that function as natural food preservatives, and plant-based antimicrobials and immunostimulants that can reduce dependence on antibiotic use in fish cultivation. The possibility of using several seaweed species as functional food ingredients was also discussed as well as the need to make popular Filipino foods such as tuyo, bagoong, and taba ng talangka, healthier for the younger generation. Mr. Cruz especially emphasized the country’s extensive marine biodiversity as a sustainable source of novel nutraceuticals, natural cosmetics, and even raw materials for the handicraft industry. Ultimately, the farming of such new crops can provide a big boost to aquaculture exports and can generate much needed jobs and livelihood for marginalized fishing communities. Participants of the meeting from the CFOS Institute of Aquaculture and Institute of Fish Processing Technology were grateful for a totally new dimension into research needs and opportunities in fisheries and aquaculture.