Conquering the Important Challenges of Aquaculture

Conquering the Important Challenges of Aquaculture

The present manager and laboratory head of the Negros Prawn Producers Cooperative has tread the halls of the company for 27 years. She noted that managing the laboratory operations to serve the aquaculture industry specifically shrimps has had the Coop realized to widen the services to other industries as well to maximize the use of the mostly government donated equipment.

She recalls the glooms, the dark clouds and inspiring, dynamic moments that molded her and the company throughout the decades.

Roselyn Usero has been providing technical consultancy in aquaculture since 1989 and rose to manager, laboratory head and technical consultant for the sector. Her background in Chemistry and Master’s in Environmental Engineering has given her a broad base from which to approach many concerns from the industry.

“Meeting and helping people in the best ways I can through the Coop is very rewarding,” she started. “The tangible part is good production and sustainable employment of a number of people working specially in the farms. The best reward is felt in the heart when you can see the happy faces of the pond aides, technicians and the growers,” she continued.

Still, behind every smiles of accomplishments lies the critical problems she faces in her field.

“The gloomy side of my work is during disease crisis,” she began. “I can still remember the ‘dark clouds’ looming in the farms stricken by luminous bacteria and then white spot syndrome virus. The luminous bacterial problems have taught us that high stocking intensities, unsustainable culture techniques and use of chemicals damage the pond environment and the receiving bodies of water….that there is such thing as maximum holding capacity and whatever abuse done to the environment eventually will get back negatively,” she recounted.

Usero noted that the use of reservoir systems with the “greenwater” technology somehow prevented and managed these luminous bacterial problems.

“Biosecurity or disease exclusion has been the focus in how to handle WSSV,” she told. “As we continued to be in the business, the growers have no choice but to learn since shrimp farming is science and art combined. By learning from experiences and updating with the experiences in other countries that were hit first, documentation, evaluation of successful cultures and sharing among growers, the WSSV was somehow prevented and managed,” she went on.

Her endurance and experience through the years led us to her project or accomplishment that she considered to be the most significant in her career. It was the continued operation of some key producers that were among the first CAPE Projects (SAVECOR Shrimp Farm and AQUACARDS, Inc.) in the area, undaunted by the “crisis blows” since the late nineties, and the widened operation of the Negros Prawn Producers Cooperative Analytical and Diagnostic Laboratory serving more clienteles in the country as a whole are among her significant achievements aside from writing several issues of the shrimp industry practical manuals with BFAR.

The project she relayed shows the central benefits and challenges of some developments in the Philippines.

“It is through the CAPE Program that we were able to extend verifications of already validated technologies to the qualified farms,” she said. “In this program, documentation and evaluation of the cost-efficiency and effectiveness of the inputs to address the concerns and needs of the grow-out. Through these, we were able to share their evaluated data and crop performance to other growers during our Technical Update Meetings and during the National Shrimp Congress held every two years. Manuals and site-specific shrimp farming protocols were also generated,” she added.

Moreover, last year’s collaborative shrimp related projects with SEAFDEC, DOST and BFAR and the certification of the NPPC laboratory as an ISO/IEC 17025 lab earlier this year has made her more inspired, dynamic, optimistic and systematic in dealing with more incoming tasks.

Today, she continues — a testament, an endurance we say, to Usero’s commitment to serve that can benefit hundreds of individuals in aquaculture.

Her position as Chemist/Laboratory Head/Manager of the Negros Prawn and Technical Consultant in some of the Shrimp Farms representing the Cooperative since the mid-nineties has been an inspiring position but goes with it are tremendous challenges to make the Coop survive and so with the shrimp growers.

The widening and streamlining of the laboratory services to cater the new tests required by the shrimp industry to back up management strategies in the farms is one important contribution of the Coop. NPPC also maximized the use of the equipment from government grants (BFAR and DOST) and some from SEAFDEC to serve other non-aqua firms to assure a steady flow of funds to sustain and improve the Coop.

“On top of this, none beats the kind and generous Board of Directors who unselfishly oversee the operation of the Coop as a whole,” Usero started off. “They are the reason why the Coop remained to be the only unified and sustainable association of shrimp growers that survived all through the shrimp farming history in the Philippines.”

As the years progressed and with the Coop consistently upgrading to meet and answer challenges, Usero imparted to One Expert, “I am proud and simply happy to be part of this group, this is maybe where I shall be when retirement comes.”

Other than managing the technical operation of the Coop, Usero also handled technical research projects as the Coop counterpart in collaborative studies by SEAFDEC, DOST and BFAR. Among her interests aside from the analytical and microbial lab works is applying the data obtained from the lab to the field. She finds documenting the technical part of the shrimp-grow out, validating and verifying to generate a cost-effective and efficient site specific protocol is very interesting and fulfilling.

She has been a project leader through the years for the many tasks she handled like: Streamlining the NPPC Laboratory Facilities for Analysis of Processed Foods, Drinking and Wastewater Including Widening of Services in Aquaculture (DOST Region 6), September 2012 – February 2016; Upgrading the NPPC Laboratory Facilities to Support the Shrimp Industry Sectors in the Philippines: Chemical Residue Analysis using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). Funding Agency: DA-BFAR, March 2013 – April 2014; and, Upgrading and Streamlining Laboratory Shrimp Virus Disease Diagnostic Procedures by Incorporating the Use of Polymerase Chain Reaction Technique to Track the Spread of White-Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) in Hatcheries and Shrimp Farms in Region V1: Emphasis on Reducing Risk of Viral Epizootics, March 2000 – April 2001, among many others.

Usero has since published and co-authored four books relating to aquaculture since 2001 and have been awarded four different times at beginning of 2004 for her research and manuals.