THREE major constraints in aquaculture are lack of sufficient fry supply, high cost of feed and skilled manpower to keep aquaculture ventures running.
Wild-caught fry has been a problem for quite some time due to declining population of wild milkfish spawners and pollution. With legislated multi-species hatchery to be established nationwide, the fry supply problem will be addressed and eventually boost aquaculture production.
This is in consonance with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Bangus Fry Sufficiency Program. The basic design of the hatchery is based on the requirement of a milkfish hatchery but the facilities can also be used for other species like crab, shrimp, and pompano.
Feed cost is another major concern of fish farmers because it comprises about 60% of the production cost. In the process, it contributes significantly to the high cost of aquaculture products. Furthermore, fishmeal operators have become competitors of fishers and consumers because themajor ingredient used in the diet is fish.
SEAFDEC has been conducting research using indigenous materials that will substitute the expensive and declining supply of fish for fish meal. Result of these studies showed that locally available ingredients as substitute to fish meal yield are comparable if not better in terms of growth and survival than the commercial feeds.
However, to verify mass production of this feed as regards capacity and volume was then a problem since it requires huge funding to put up such feed mill that will house the required infrastructure and facilities.
BFAR is now allocating funds for this purpose. A commercial feed mill is being proposed for construction inside the SEAFDEC complex and may be operational next year. With this development, the problem may be addressed in terms of feed cost. This will eventually lower prices of aquaculture products.
As regards accelerated nationwide techno-transfer, an in situ training in CARAGA region will be piloted next month and subsequently in other places in the country.
We are now exhausting all possible means to address these immediate concerns of aquaculturists says AQD Chief Dan Baliao. We are working closely with BFAR in implementing the legislated multi-species hatcheries, mass production of low-cost feed and broodstock diet conducting skills development training for graduates in fisheries to be deployed in the areas identified he added.
SEAFDEC is a regional treaty organization established in 1967 to promote fisheries development in Southeast Asia. Member countries include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. AQD, one of SEAFDECs five technical departments, is dedicated to aquaculture research and development through the production, dissemination and exchange of aquaculture information.