Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plans (ISPs) Platform

Tilapia Industry Profile

Tilapia is the second most important cultured species in the country accounting for 281,111 MT total production in 2021. Philippines’ total production was 263,871 MT in 2020, which makes up 20% of the Philippines’ aquaculture production, with Central Luzon as the leading region with tilapia production of 136,218 MT. The most common species is the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), or gray tilapia, which has several improved breeds available from government and private hatcheries. It can tolerate brackishwater with salinities of up to 25 parts per thousand (ppt). Tilapia is an important commodity for food security because it is widely accepted and is suitable for mass production through grow-out culture in backyard and commercial scale. 

Tilapia fry produced in breeding units are kept in the nursery unit until fingerling size before moving them into grow-out units to ensure proper growth of the fish and good survival rate. Fish need adequate space, food, and a healthy environment so it is important to consider water depth, food supply, and water quality in determining how many fish are kept in the same area. 

In the Philippines, tilapia is produced mainly for local consumption. The produce can be sold fresh, chilled, or live. When grown to large size and fileted, tilapia can also be marketed as a premium white fish as its mild tasting lean flesh is flaky for its somewhat firm texture. Some places in the country, smoking of tilapia is done but mainly for the immediate locality.

Problems in the Industry

The problems faced by the Philippine Tilapia industry include: 

For freshwater tilapia strains:

  •   Low survival rate (averaging 55%) in typical freshwater grow-out farm compared to modern farm
  •   Mass mortalities arising from poor culture conditions and disease outbreaks
  •   Non/slow adoption of good aquaculture practices and technologies
  •  Quality source of breeders and fry


For saline tilapia strains:

  •       Low survival rate of saline tilapia in brackishwater ponds
  •       Low production of tilapia in brackishwater and marine waters
  •       Slow growth of saline tilapia strain in brackishwater ponds
  •       No aquaculture of saline tilapia in estuarine mangrove environment
  •       Quality source of breeders and fry to meet the expansion of the industry

ISP for Tilapia

The interventions under the ISP will help ensure the steady supply of quality fingerlings from government and private hatcheries, increase the production capacities of existing culture systems through the use of detection kits and oral fish vaccines and help expand the tilapia culture in brackish water systems. 
The target outcomes are:

For Freshwater Tilapia

  • Increased the survival rate in grow-out culture of freshwater tilapia in typical farm
  • Established certified freshwater tilapia hatcheries in Luzon areas

For Saline Tilapia

  • Increased survival rate of saline tilapia strains in brackishwater ponds
  • Saline tilapia culture in estuarine mangrove environment
  • Established certified brackishwater tilapia hatcheries in Visayas and Mindanao areas

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


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

Innovations for Higher Tilapia Production

Hot temperatures, particularly during El Nino episodes can lower fry production in hatcheries   by reducing the frequency of spawning and egg   production. To ensure year-round fry production, the...

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The Zeolite-silica nanocomposite

The Zeolite-silica nanocomposite (ZNC) is a novel material synthesized and fully characterized at the CLSU Nanotechnology R & D Facility. ZNC can be utilized as soil and water conditioner for...

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Technology Transfer Initiatives

Technology transfer initiatives ensure that the outputs of R&D and innovations are transformed
into viable and applicable technologies that help intended users

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

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 Tilapia Industry under the ASEAN Economic Community

Tilapia production in the Philippines was found to be highly competitive in both export trade and import substitution scenarios. As long as the average tilapia yield, which is recorded to be 5.61mt/ha, does not drop to 2.22 mt/ha or domestic cost will not increase by 199%, sustaining the country’s Tilapia competitiveness is likely possible. However, further initiatives on increasing Tilapia yield in the Philippines would still be necessary to sustain and enhance the good performance of the industry.


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)