Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plans (ISPs) Platform

Milkfish Industry Profile

Milkfish, which is locally known as “bangus” and scientifically named as Chanos chanos, is the Philippines’ national fish. Being one of the most popularly cultured fishes in the country, milkfish can be raised through brackish water, marine, and freshwater culture environments. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Statistics, the Philippines has been the lead producer of milkfish from 2001 to 2009, but was surpassed by Indonesia in 2010.

Majority of the milkfish production in the Philippines is for domestic consumption. Milkfish products are either sold frozen and/or fresh, and are commonly consumed dried, smoked, and/or filleted. Typically served in a Filipino household, the Philippine milkfish is a huge hit in countries, especially those populated by Filipino immigrants and workers.

Problems in the Industry

The main issue faced by the milkfish industry is the lack of hatchery tanks and low supply of high-quality fingerlings and feeds. Farmers’ lack of access to infrastructure and technologies (from hatchery to processing), poor market linkages, and high capital requirements are also observed to be the factors that limit the growth of the milkfish industry.

In comparison to the world’s leading milkfish producer, hatcheries in Indonesia have a higher survival rate (30% to 80%) compared to the Philippines (50%). They also have cheaper breeder’s fry (0.30 PhP/pc in the Philippines vs 0.13 PhP/pc in Indonesia) and feed. This explains why the majority of production costs in the Philippines are attributed to feeds and stocking material, making the country highly dependent on imported fry from Indonesia.

In Thailand, fish ponds were found to have more depth, therefore having more fry and fingerlings per unit area compared to fish ponds in our country. Local fisherfolks also complain about the quality of feeds in our country (i.e high feed conversion ratio), as well as the environment in the fish ponds (i.e. low dissolved oxygen). In fact, due to the deteriorating water quality that led to millions worth of fish kills in 2018 and 2019, a fishing moratorium was imposed in several municipalities of Pangasinan to rehabilitate the areas. Several studies from UP MSI and BFAR reported that the source of fry heavily influences the growth performance and survival rate of the fish fry, hence hatcheries must be placed near farms. Lastly, despite the interest and capability to export milkfish fry, companies in the Philippines expressed their concerns over the exclusion of fish fry in the list of commodities allowed for export.

ISP for Milkfish

The PCAARRD Industry Strategic S&T Program (ISP) for milkfish aims to ensure a sustainable fry supply from local hatcheries and improve yields from various culture systems. Included under the ISP for milkfish are the activities that would refine and pilot test improved milkfish hatchery and grow-out protocols; and transfer the technology to the private sector.

Strategic R&D

Strategic R&D is DOST-PCAARRD’s banner program comprising all R&D activities that are intended to generate outputs geared towards maximum economic and social benefits

Technologies

Products, equipment, and protocols or process innovations developed to improve productivity, efficiency,
quality, and profitability in the agriculture and aquatic industries, and to achieve sustainable
utilization and management of natural resources

Milkfish Synbiotic-enriched Feeds

The project aimed to address the current problems of the Philippine Milkfish Industry such as declining supply of stocks from the wild, high mortality rate, and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant...

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Milkfish Core-Satellite Hatcheries

To address the shortage in milkfish fry for grow-out culture, aquaculture researchers adopted the milkfish hatchery core-satellite scheme adopted from milkfish hatchery operation in Gondol, Bali, Indonesia.  This scheme provides...

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Automatic Fry Counter

The automatic fry counter is a laser fry-counting tool that addresses the problem of rigorous and inaccurate manual counting of milkfish fry. The tool was designed to minimize stress during...

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Automated Mechanical top and Bottom Feeders

Automated and mechanized feeding systems are indispensable in smart aquaculture where precision and efficiency are imperative.  However, the adoption of highly-sophisticated feeding systems can be cost-prohibitive. Researchers have developed prototypes...

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Capacity Building

Capacity building efforts of DOST-PCAARRD seek to develop and enhance the R&D capabilities of researchers
and academic or research institutions through graduate assistantships & non-degree trainings
and development and/or upgrading of research facilities

Infrastructure Development

Manpower Development

Technology Transfer Initiatives

Policy Research & Advocacy

Analysis of policy concerns and advocacy of science-informed policies ensures that the AANR policy environment is conducive for S&T development
and investments

Competitiveness of Philippine Milkfish Industry under the ASEAN Economic Community

The study revealed that Philippine milkfish is competitive both under the export trade and import substitution scenarios. This implies that milkfish production is cheaper in the Philippines relative to other countries. For this reason, the country must fully develop and improve its local industry, and continuously expand its global market. With the country’s export competitiveness, the Philippines can compete with milkfish products from Thailand and Taiwan. To sustain the country’s import and export competitiveness, the average yield of 0.99 mt/ha (for ponds) must not decline by 67 percent or domestic cost must not grow by 253 percent.

Reference:

Manalo, N. Q. and Dorado, R. A. (2017). ASEAN Economic Community: Opportunities and Challenges for the Fishery Sector. Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines: Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development – (Project Report)