Philippine broodstock program aims to improve quality and quantity of milkfish fry

Ruby Gonzalez
February 01, 2018
By Ruby Gonzalez
Philippine broodstock program aims to improve quality and quantity of milkfish fry
Philippine broodstock program aims to improve quality and quantity of milkfish fry Gaia Discovery
The Philippines’ perennial shortage of milkfish fry may find its resolution in the National Broodstock Development Program (NBDP), an initiative of the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources through the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI).

“A broodstock development program is considered one of the limiting factors faced by many industry stakeholders. This may be addressed with the help of the government by establishing a broodstock development facility which will cater to the needs of interested stakeholders for their broodstock requirements by operating a breeding and hatchery facility,” Francisco Santos, OIC-Chief at the Aquaculture R&D Division of the NFRDI, told Hatchery International.

“With the increased number of hatcheries operating in the locality, producing and obtaining juveniles for aquaculture use is seen to have greater feasibility and economic viability,” Santos said.

NBDP, which has been approved but not yet signed, covers the stock inventory of existing breeders, hatchery facilities and manpower, selection and upgrading of broodstock, development of breeders, screening and identification of program recipients, upgrading of knowledge and skills through training and technical staff.

“While milkfish is important, its production has been hindered by various problems. Among the most critical of these is the limited supply of fry,” he said.

Based on 2015 figures, the milkfish requirements of the Philippines was estimated at 2.5 billion fry. Private and government hatcheries supplied only one billion. The rest were either imported, mostly from Indonesia, or were wild fry.

Local milkfish fry are priced at about $0.01 per piece and those imported from Indonesia are 50% cheaper. He said that factors such as high costs of labor and power drive Philippine pricing.

One of the components of the NBDP is broodstock dispersal to eligible private hatcheries.

But what will be the incentive of Philippine hatcheries when there is a market which has access to imported cheap fry, even if quality is sometimes compromised?

“The broodstock dispersal cuts down their expenses. They wouldn’t have to wait for five years, the time it could take for the broodstock to spawn. They pay back the government in eggs and fry,” he explained. The beneficiaries give back 10% of the total eggs and 5% of total fry produced.

The law of supply and demand also comes into play. “With an increase in the number of hatcheries comes the increase in fry production; it will bring down the cost of Philippine milkfish fry,”said Dr. Joseph Rayos, fishery biologist at NFRDI.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, through NFRDI, continues to invest and support the milkfish broodstock-hatchery R&D program. “The national government provides funding to R&D efforts addressing its remaining technical constraints, in a similar manner to how Canada has been supporting salmon R&D,” Santos said.

R&D activities are currently being conducted for various aquaculture activities. With regard to government finfish hatchery-reared species and fingerling production, several facilities have already been established to develop sub-sectors, such as those of the NBDP, he added.

Milkfish is the Philippines’ top aquaculture product. Other major species farmed are tilapia, seaweed and shrimp.

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