Friday, 24 February 2017


Milkfish farming in Indonesia, Taiwan Province of China and the Philippines started about four to six centuries ago. Culture methods in a variety of enclosures are constantly being improved upon. Since the 1970s, large investments have been made in the Philippines (as well as in Taiwan Province of China, Indonesia and Hawaii) in terms of infrastructure, research, credit and training in support to the milkfish industry. For example, the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) Aquaculture Department (AQD) was established in Iloilo, Philippines in 1973 with a special remit to find solutions for milkfish aquaculture problems. Government agencies and fisheries institutions were also involved in a national effort to intensify milkfish farming from the mid 1970s until now. In this work, research and development on farming systems, breeding and fry production technologies was carried out. There was no attempt at genetic improvement but fry translocation and trade occurred between Indonesia, Taiwan Province of China and the Philippines and geographic variations and heterogeneity were documented. More recently, unconfirmed reports indicate that milkfish are now being cultured to fingerling or juvenile size in the South Pacific Islands and in Singapore as tuna bait. 

Milkfish farming was previously a traditional industry, with little emphasis on producing sexually mature, reproductively active fish in captivity. The traditional milkfish industry depended totally on an annual restocking of farm ponds with fingerlings reared from wild-caught fry. As a result, the industry suffered from regional, seasonal and annual variations in fry availability. These variations are generally unpredictable, and may be quite large over short periods of time.

Thus, the central problem faced by the international milkfish industry was to find a way to produce a reliable, adequate, high quality supply of milkfish fry that was not subject to large unpredictable variations in time and space. During the past decade, much progress has been made, particularly in regard to milkfish propagation and the mass production of fry by private hatcheries, research institutions and government agencies. Instead of relying on wild-caught fry, milkfish farms in the Philippines, Taiwan Province of China and Indonesia now obtain the majority of their fry from hatcheries, mainly due to the significant shortage of wild-caught fry.


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