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Pacific island develops milkfish breeding program

March 28, 2017  By Erich Luening

A project to develop a milkfish broodstock and breeding program on Palau in the Western Pacific region of Oceana recently produced thousands of fry for outplanting in the tiny archipelago.

About 80,000 milkfish fry were produced from eggs within the months of May, October, and December last year. The survival rate that was achieved during development was 46.25%.

The fry are currently stocked at fish ponds in Ngatpang State for further monitoring and evaluation for growth as well as survival during their nursery and growout phase, according to local reports.

By establishing a local source for milkfish fry, the Cooperative Research & Extension of Palau Community College, which directed the breeding project (PCCCRE), vows to support local commercial fish farms as part of the Palau economy.


The project began in September of 2014 with funding from the College of Micronesia (COM) Land Grant Program and the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture (CTSA) based in Hawaii. It is also being conducted in collaboration with the Oceanic Institute of Hawaii Pacific University, Shallum Etpison Aquaculture, and the Ngerdubech Corporation that operates a milkfish farm in Ngatpang State.

The project was initiated by installing a 30x30ft. floating cage stocked with 44 milkfish broodstock in Ngatpang State. After two years the breeders started to spawn and successfully produced substantial quantities of milkfish eggs. The eggs were transported to the PCC MultiSpecies Hatchery in Ngermetengel, Ngeremlengui State where a series of larval rearing trials were conducted.

Now researchers hope that the technology and knowledge transfer on how to grow milkfish from egg to fry will assist other entrepreneurs around the island to start their own businesses and invigorate the local economy.

Erich Luening

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