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Philippines continues to develop mackerel tuna broodstock

June 20, 2024  By Ruby Gonzalez

Photo: Acib Lamawuran/Getty Images

The Philippines’ bid to create a tuna farming industry is propped up by continually developing a broodstock inventory. The program is spearheaded by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC/AQD) and funded by the Government of Japan.

Juvenile mackerel tuna (Euthynnus affinis), locally known as kawakawa and tulingan, are caught from the wild and brought to a facility. Since the program commenced in 2020, they have succeeded in growing the fish from 100 grams to about 2,000 grams in captivity. 

One-hundred-gram female juvenile hit maturity in about eight months. At 2,000 grams, on the eleventh month, fish reached maturity and started spawning eggs. The fertilization of eggs did not go through.

Male fish became spawning-capable at 1,612 grams on the seventh month.

The latest batch of juveniles was delivered in March 2024. It was composed of 17 juveniles caught from an otoshi-ami, a big-scale fish trap.

With “meticulous planning and execution during transportation,”  SEAFDEC/AQD said the newly caught fish had an almost 95 per cent survival rate upon arrival at the facility.

“The kawakawa juveniles will be kept in our hatchery, where we hope they reach maturity and lay eggs. It will be another breakthrough for us if the eggs hatch into the first captive-bred tuna in the Philippines,” SEAFDEC/AQD Chief Dan Baliao said in a press statement.

Currently 25 new kawakawa are being reared at SEAFDEC/AQD, with two mature kawakawa collected as juveniles last year. These are being closely monitored for their possible spawning of viable eggs.

The project, which also includes roundfin scad Decapterus macrosoma, is studying reproductive biology, feeding habits and migration.

Project proponent and SEAFDEC researcher, Irene Legaspi and her team are developing appropriate capture and transport techniques for the acquisition of fish stocks, developing techniques in broodstock management; and monitoring and documenting occurrence of diseases in broodstock.

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