June 14, 2004  (MALAYA) By EVANGELINE DE VERA - An aquaculturist from Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental has developed a technology that extends a fish's survival without water while in transit for several hours by virtually putting it into a deep sleep or in "suspended animation."

Bonifacio Comandante, Jr., invented the technology by undergoing a conditioning process in which the fishes, or any marine species, are held overnight in filtered, circulated seawater at about 30-degrees Centigrade without feeding them.

The fishes are transferred afterward to another tank filled with brackish water initially kept at four-degrees Centigrade, then gradually allowed to reach 18 to 20 degrees Centigrade.

An anti-stress conditioning and acclimatizing then follows by adding a mixture of a liquid solution called Buhi Blend, developed by Comandante, to the conditioning tank, immersing the fishes into it for four minutes after which the "stunned" fishes are arranged in cooled (18 to 20 degrees C) Styropor boxes lined with plastic bags.

The bags are later filled with medical oxygen and sealed for transport. The fishes are expected to regain consciousness and return to life after about nine hours.

Comandante is set to introduce the technology on June 8. He is also working to get his work patented.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Malcolm Sarmiento said once this technology is adopted by other fishermen wanting to transport their produce, fish traders will be able to bring more fishes inland and earn more profit.

Sarmiento said the technology is a better alternative to the conventional practice of keeping the fish alive while traveling by putting it in a container with water, an inconvenient and cumbersome method that also cost traders more.

BFAR recently tested Comandante's "waterless technology" on groupers (lapu-lapu) which were delivered to Sarmiento's office in Quezon City from Iloilo. The fishes were observed to regain consciousness after eight hours of travel with a storage box temperature of 25-degrees C.

"While the waterless transport of live fish has been tried by some traders before, the technology presented by Comandante has greater promise for use by live fish traders in the country. Let it be known in the fishing world that the Philippines has now developed a technology for waterless transport of live fish, a method that will revolutionize the way we normally handle fish after harvest," he said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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