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Degraded streams into fish habitat

  • AQUATIC MACROPHYTE BIOSORPTION SYSTEM – That’s the term that Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, an environmental scientist, calls her technique that can transform degraded shallow streams (about knee-deep) into fish habitats. The system, AMBS for short, consists of a network of bamboo barrier installed across the stream or river (photo) to prevent the water plants which scientists call macrophytes but which are just the water plants that you and I call water hyacinth and kangkong. The water plants form a mat of roots that filters the solids as well as  absorbs and adsorbs the pollutants dissolved in the water. The end result is clarified water that is conducive to fish habitation.

    AQUATIC MACROPHYTE BIOSORPTION SYSTEM – That’s the term that Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, an environmental scientist, calls her technique that can transform degraded shallow streams (about knee-deep) into fish habitats. The system, AMBS for short, consists of a network of bamboo barrier installed across the stream or river (photo) to prevent the water plants which scientists call macrophytes but which are just the water plants that you and I call water hyacinth and kangkong. The water plants form a mat of roots that filters the solids as well as absorbs and adsorbs the pollutants dissolved in the water. The end result is clarified water that is conducive to fish habitation.

  • DEVELOPER OF AMBS – Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, an environmental scientist, developed what she calls Aquatic Macrophyte Biosorption System, a technique that can transform degraded and polluted streams and shallow rivers into productive fish habitats. She is a professor emeritus of the UPLB Institute of Biological Science where she taught for many years.

    DEVELOPER OF AMBS – Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, an environmental scientist, developed what she calls Aquatic Macrophyte Biosorption System, a technique that can transform degraded and polluted streams and shallow rivers into productive fish habitats. She is a professor emeritus of the UPLB Institute of Biological Science where she taught for many years.

  • TILAPIA HARVEST – Photo shows tilapia caught in Molawin Creek that has become a breeding ground of various fish species after its water was cleansed of pollutants, thanks to the AMBS technology developed by  Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, emeritus professor of the Institute of Biological Science in UP Los Baños.

    TILAPIA HARVEST – Photo shows tilapia caught in Molawin Creek that has become a breeding ground of various fish species after its water was cleansed of pollutants, thanks to the AMBS technology developed by Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla, emeritus professor of the Institute of Biological Science in UP Los Baños.

  • FINGERLINGS FROM MOLAWIN CREEK – Molawin Creek that runs through the UPLB campus used to be polluted. When its water was clarified with the use of AMBS, the creek became a habitat for various fish and other water species that include tilapia, dalag, hito, shrimp, snail and others. Photo shows fingerling scooped with the hand in the Molawin Creek, indicating that indeed the stream has become a breeding ground for various water species.

    FINGERLINGS FROM MOLAWIN CREEK – Molawin Creek that runs through the UPLB campus used to be polluted. When its water was clarified with the use of AMBS, the creek became a habitat for various fish and other water species that include tilapia, dalag, hito, shrimp, snail and others. Photo shows fingerling scooped with the hand in the Molawin Creek, indicating that indeed the stream has become a breeding ground for various water species.

  • STUDENTS SUPPORT AMBS DISSEMINATION – Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla gets support from student groups and NGOs in spreading the AMBS technology. Sometimes, they help in clearing the polluted streams and rivers. They also assist during lectures before members of communities who live along rivers and streams. Dr. Zafaralla, at right, poses with members of the student organization who helped her in one project.

    STUDENTS SUPPORT AMBS DISSEMINATION – Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla gets support from student groups and NGOs in spreading the AMBS technology. Sometimes, they help in clearing the polluted streams and rivers. They also assist during lectures before members of communities who live along rivers and streams. Dr. Zafaralla, at right, poses with members of the student organization who helped her in one project.

  • TAKING AMBS TO THE GRASSROOTS – Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla is shown speaking before residents of Brgy. San Antonio in Los Baños, Laguna. She was in one of her sorties to the rural areas to spread the good word about her technique of transforming degraded water systems into productive fish habitats. The technique is very simple, doable and does not cost much. What is important is that the community should keep the stream or river clean by not allowing waste materials to be thrown there. By maintaining the water clean, the stream could be a sustainable source of food for the community.

    TAKING AMBS TO THE GRASSROOTS – Dr. Macrina T. Zafaralla is shown speaking before residents of Brgy. San Antonio in Los Baños, Laguna. She was in one of her sorties to the rural areas to spread the good word about her technique of transforming degraded water systems into productive fish habitats. The technique is very simple, doable and does not cost much. What is important is that the community should keep the stream or river clean by not allowing waste materials to be thrown there. By maintaining the water clean, the stream could be a sustainable source of food for the community.

Dr. Macrina Zafaralla is a one-woman army going around the country to promote her advocacy of reviving degraded shallow streams and rivers by a very simple and doable technique that rids the water of pollution so fishes will thrive and multiply.

In the scientist’s words, the technique is called Aquatic Macrophyte Biosorption System (AMBS). In the layman’s language, the technique simply uses water plants (water hyacinth or kangkong) that are held in place by a barrier made of short bamboo poles. The plants’ roots form a mat that filters out floating solids as well as absorbs and adsorbs substances that are dissolved in water. With the clean water, various fish species make the place their home. This way, the rehabilitated water system becomes a fish habitat that becomes a continuing source of food for the people.

By the way, Dr. Zafaralla is an environmental scientist who is professor emeritus at the Institute of Biological Science in UP Los Baños. She conceived the AMBS technique about seven years ago, and it has been proven to work wonders starting from the Molawin Creek within the UPLB  campus down to rivers in Tanay, the Silang-Santa Rosa river in  Laguna and Cavite, Pangao river in Lipa and elsewhere.

As early as the second day after placement of the water hyacinth, fingerlings or fry would appear in the water, according to Dr. Zafaralla. The eggs or fry could have been brought with the plants from the source. For as long as the water is kept clean (no dumping of wastes) the stream will continue to nurture fish. The ideal depth of water is knee-deep and it should be flowing, albeit slowly, so there is aeration needed by the fish. Also important is to control the volume of the so-called macrophytes (water hyacinth and kangkong) to prevent an overcrowded condition that could deplete oxygen in the water.

The bamboo barrier is placed across the stream or shallow river. Each barrier could be  installed a hundred meters apart, each place provided with water hyacinth about one or two feet wide. That’s enough to attract the fish to lay their eggs and multiply there, according to Dr. Zafaralla. The fishes commonly found in the ABMS include tilapia, shrimps, dalag, hito and even edible snails.

What gave Dr. Zafaralla to hatch the idea? It all started, she said, when she saw a little girl bathing in the polluted water of Molawin Creek. She said the girl was splashing the polluted water on her face and perhaps even drinking from the stream. She told herself that the little girl must be saved from the danger of playing and bathing in polluted water.

She thought of finding a way to rid the water of pollution. And what she saw in her travels to China and Japan gave her the idea that water plants could help by absorbing and adsorbing the pollutants dissolved in the water. And, voila! The technique works. It has since become the advocacy of the Institute of Biological Science to disseminate the technology. But since the members of the faculty are busy with their work, Dr. Zafaralla is doing the dissemination mostly by herself, sometimes with NGOs and students. Only recently, she expounded on the benefits that could be derived from AMBS before residents along the Pangao river in Lipa City. And she has an invitation from the governor of Rizal to do the same soon.