The embattled local milkfish industry got a shot in the arm as the first rehabilitated hatchery in Western Visayas, which is expected to produce five to 10 million bangus fry every year, began its operations to address the persistent shortage of milkfish seeds in the country.
Located in the province of Aklan, the 1,787 square meter Batan Bangus Satellite Hatchery was launched in February this year under the National Fry Sufficiency Program of the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR).
The hatchery used to produce shrimp fry starting in 1983 but outbreaks of diseases in shrimp during the 90s led to the hatchery’s closure in 1995.
Now, it is one of the central hubs for quality, locally-produced milkfish fry in Western Visayas.
To jumpstart the hatchery’s operations, 1.1 million pieces of milkfish larvae and 30 liters of rotifers—microscopic aquatic animals that serve as natural food—were donated by the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center Aquaculture Department (SEAFDEC/AQD) in February.
“The revival of the satellite hatchery in Batan is simply the beginning of many yet to come,” SEAFDEC/AQD Chief Dan Baliao said.
Aside from the hatchery in the Municipality of Batan, another satellite hatchery located in the campus of the Northern Iloilo Polytechnic State College in Concepcion town is also poised to begin operations.
In southern Iloilo, SEAFDEC/AQD has already identified 12 hatcheries that were abandoned or are non-operational.
Baliao said by rehabilitating these identified sites, the production of milkfish fry in the country would be maximized to meet the yearly demand of about 2.5 billion.
At present, to meet this massive requirement, farmers have resorted to the importation of fry from neighboring countries.
About half of the 400,000 metric tons of milkfish consumed by Filipinos were sourced as fry from hatcheries in Indonesia and Taiwan before being imported for growth-out in the Philippines, according to industry sources.