Oyster belt rises in Sta. Teresita, Cagayan

TUGUEGARAO CITY — Oyster used to be exclusive in the town of Buguey in Cagayan.

It’s not the same nowadays, as culture of the species has spread to neighboring Sta. Teresita and other towns in the province such as Sanchez Mira, Claveria, Pamplona and Gonzaga.

Fisherfolk Nelyn Bitun, 39, and mother of four, used to rely only on her income from fishing. Now, she says, harvest from the oyster projects greatly adds to her regular income.

Bitun is echoed by neighbor Eddie Villana, 51, with eight kids. Both say that they harvest oyster at least once a week or every other day during lean fishing season.

On the average, each can harvest 15 to 20 glasses oyster which they sell at 15 to 20 pesos each. Selling is never a problem as apart from local demand, they sell their harvest to a fish dealer who distributes their produce to other towns.

Bitun and Villana are just two of the recipients of 75 units oyster rafts established by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) – Region 02 in Sta. Teresita this year.

According to AT Artemio Unipa, the establishment of oyster rafts in Sta. Teresita started in 2010 alongside several fish cage demo or livelihood units. The yearly establishment since then has enabled the oyster (Crassostrea iredalie) to adapt and multiply in the area.

“We used to have oysters here, but these were of the ‘native’ kind, which are not much bigger than one centimeter across,” Bitun says. “Now the oysters are so big, they cannot fit into the mouth of a gin bottle.”

In recognition to the abundance of oyster in the area and to further promote the species, the Local Government Unit and the Sta. Teresita National High School has held an oyster cooking contest last March. “We were amazed as we came to know various recipes that can be made out of oyster,” Unipa said.

Overall, the bureau has targeted the establishment of 629 oyster raft livelihood projects this year, to be distributed to various towns in Region 02.

“Oyster is a low-cost but highly lucrative project that our fisherfolk can engage into. It is low cost as it requires no artificial feeds, at all,” BFAR RO2 regional director Dr. Milagros Morales, said. Max Prudencio/PNA/northboundasia.com