TO address the acute shortage of
bangus fry in the country, the government recently launched the National Bangus Fry Sufficiency
Program and named Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated
Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC) in Dagupan as its focal
Rosario said the program, launched in September this year, seeks to produce bangus fry that will supply the needs of the country’s fish farmers, estimated from 1.5 billion to 2 billion fry a year.
He lamented that the bulk of bangus fry needed by the country still comes from Indonesia, which hosts the biggest production facility in the world, but ironically the Indonesians don’t consider bangus a favorite dish.
“The importation of bangus fry is an old problem besetting the country. But thanks to the present administration, it has finally realized the problem by giving a sharp focus on the production of bangus fry,” said Rosario.
The program kicked off with the holding of bangus summits in Bohol and Iloilo aimed at encouraging bangus stakeholders to consider going into bangus fry production with the help of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
With the effort is the need to conduct an inventory of the existing number of sabalo (mother bangus) in the hands of the government and private sectors, which according to a latest estimate is placed at some 8,000 only to date.
Sabalo can lay from one million to 1.5 million eggs every spawning season. In order for a milkfish to become sabalo, it must be raised in fishpond for as long as five years.
Presently, Rosario said of the two billion fry needed by the industry, 1,5 billion fry are being imported. The rest are collected from the wild and produced by independent bangus fry producers scattered in different parts of the country.
He recalled there was sufficient supply of bangus fry in the country in the 1970s, and Taiwan had to depend on its supply from the country.
The situation, he said, has since reversed. “The Philippines is now buying bangus fingerlings from either Taiwan and Indonesia although the Taiwanese and Indonesians learned the technology in bangus fry production from the Philippines, through the South East Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) in Iloilo.”
Among the strategies laid down by BFAR to ensure sufficient supply of bangus fry is to build 100 satellite hatcheries all over the country, 20 were set up this year, 40 in 2019 and 40 in 2020. (Leonardo Micua)
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