Water-less live fish technology wins business award plan in US

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Posted by on April 16, 2005 at 09:34:17:

Vol. XVIII, No. 185
Thursday, April 14, 2005 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES


BY NORMAN P. AQUINO, Senior Reporter

Water-less live fish technology wins business award plan in US

A Filipino has won an international award for inventing a technology
that allows shipment of live food and ornamental fishes without water.


This fish was "put to sleep" in Negros Oriental under the waterless
fish transport technology invented by Bonifacio Comandante Jr. and,
after nine hours, was "put back to life" in Manila.

Bonifacio Comandante Jr., a marine biology graduate student at the
Silliman University, won in the international category of the
University of San Francisco business plan competition in California.

His business plan was chosen by Silicon Valley venture capitalists
from among 150 entries submitted by more than 100 universities from 18
countries. "I am so proud to have brought honor to Silliman University
and the Philippines," Mr. Comandante said.

The competition is a project of the University of San Francisco
entrepreneurship program, which encourages students to develop new
products and services that will improve the lives of people worldwide.

Mr. Comandante’s waterless transport technology now allows producers
to export live fish to Japan, Taiwan, China, and other fish-consuming
countries at a competitive price.

"Water accounts for 75% of the shipment cost so if that is eliminated,
our fish producers in the Philippines could be making it big in the
international market," Mr. Comandante noted.

The University of San Francisco business plan competition offered a
$25,000 cash prize and a chance to join the Moot Corp3 Competition,
dubbed by Business Week as the "Super Bowl of business plan

Mr. Comandante’s invention was earlier adjudged by the Philippine
Association of Graduate Educators as a model thesis.

He also won the first Oriental Negros Innovation Awards sponsored by
the Negros Oriental Business Development Foundation, and the Inventor’s
Award by the Galing Pilipino Movement.

With a start-up capital of P50,000, Mr. Comandante’s company -- Buhi
Marine Worldwide Supply, Inc. which he set up last year -- has grown to
become the Buhi International Group (BIG), a P5-million firm with the
entry of business partners from Japan and Australia.

The inventor accidentally stumbled upon his "anti-stress salt
solution" -- which puts fish into a state of hibernation -- while he
was experimenting on the sex reversal of groupers in Palawan in 1987.

He did not launch the product until he had successfully defended it as
his thesis for a masters degree in Coastal Resource Management at the
Silliman University in 2003.

Despite all the international attention that his product is getting,
Mr. Comandante said he would make sure that the technology remains in
Filipino hands. "We own 50% of the corporation, and only Filipino
technicians will apply and handle the technology anywhere in the

The inventor, born in Siquijor, said he is putting up facilities in
Siquijor, from where he will get most of his workers. He said he is
excited of putting Siquijor, an island province consisting of five
towns, on the world map through his technology. "We will make Siquijor
the next Sicily."

Transporting fish without water is a two-step process that involves
conditioning the fish -- starving it for 24 hours, cleaning its stomach
and setting a desired temperature -- and dipping it in an organic Buhi

Mr. Comandante said artificially putting a fish in a dormant state
slows its metabolism and decreases its breathing rate. He has tested 12
species of fish with his Buhi Blend, including groupers (lapu-lapu) and

He said the technology works best with fish that can stay vertical
with its ventral fins and tail touching a surface, which ensures that
the operculum remains open.

The biggest application of the Filipino technology will be in the
transport of live food fishes, whose global trade volume now reaches
more than 55,000 tons yearly. Using waterless transport, the industry
could save $248 million annually, Mr. Comandante earlier said.

The country could also benefit from the technology with more than 300
tons of live fishes being transported from Visayas and Mindanao to
Manila and more than 200 tons from Manila to Hong Kong.

Annual savings using the technology could amount to P10 million and
P43 million, respectively.

Mr. Comandante also said Southeast Asian countries ship 19,000 tons of
live food fishes to Hong Kong, and using waterless transport, the
industry could save up to $85 million a year.

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