Capacitating and engaging village-level hatcheries and nurseries through improved milkfish POT

To ensure a sustainable quality seed stock of milkfish, the DA-National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) capacitated and engaged village-level hatcheries and nurseries through adoption of improved package of technology (POT) developed by South East Asian Fisheries and Development Center (SEAFDEC) 

Focusing on efficient feeding and water management, the improved protocol involves provision of appropriate density of natural live food for the fry, while maintaining optimum water quality through proper water management using filtered and/or treated water, for faster growth and higher survival rate. 

This protocol resulted to an increase in the productivity of hatcheries and nurseries at a sustainable level of production and increased income of the operators through the adoption of improved protocols for seed production of milkfish which ensured the sustainable supply of fingerlings for grow-out ponds and cages in the province of Quezon. 

The DA-BAR funded project addresses the problem of inefficient and low production of milkfish fingerlings through the refinement of site-specific protocols for seed production of milkfish by capacitating and engaging village-level hatcheries and nurseries. 


Milkfish hatchery operators

Timoteo Maligaya, from Sariaya, Quezon, operates a backyard type hatchery with no breeders, only procured day-old larvae and reared them in concrete tanks. Like the other partner hatchery operators, Maligaya was also provided with technical assistance through a training following the larval rearing protocols of SEAFDEC. 

Maganda ang kita sa pagha-hatchery ng bangus, lalo na kung continuous ang supply ng larvae mula sa pinagkukuhanan ko nito. Sa tulong po ng project, na-improve po itong culturing tank ng green water and rotifer, na siyang pagkain ng alaga kong fry, kaya po tumaas ang production namin,” shared Maligaya. 

Sa katunayan po ay nakabili ako ng sasakyan na hinuhulugan ko hanggang ngayon at nakapagpatapos na ng panganay na anak ng Medicine at ‘yong pangalawa ay Grade 11 na. Meron din po akong tatlong tauhan na nagme-maintain ng aking hatchery at tuwing harvest time ay nagha-hire ako ng walong tao, kung kaya kahit paano ay nakakatulong din po ako sa aming komunidad,” he added. 

Another hatchery operator, Glenda Garibay, owner of Mari-al Santos Hatchery, operates and manages milkfish breeders and broodstock facility in Lucena City, Quezon, and produces day-old larvae for larval rearing. She followed the larval rearing protocols established by SEAFDEC, which was also presented during the training conducted by the DA-NFRDI-Freshwater Fisheries Research and Development Center. Her milkfish fry production increased to 23%. 

Additional concrete tanks were constructed in both sites to grow more natural live food composed of Nannochloropsis and Brachionus which are added to larval feed and fed to the fry. Feeding and water management schedule for milkfish larval rearing was followed by the hatchery operators based on SEAFDEC protocol. 

Upon reaching 1-inch total length (Size 4, Day 18-21), the fry was harvested and sold to nursery pond operators. Both hatchery operators observed an increase in the survival rate at 26% and better quality of milkfish fry as compared to the farmer’s practices.


Milkfish nursery fingerling operators           

Cooperators, Romeo Basco and Jonalyn Hutalla, are nursery rearing operators from Calauag, Quezon, who also adopted the protocols for nursery rearing operations. They procured milkfish fry from the milkfish hatchery cooperators of the project in Lucena City. 

Prior to the stocking period, the nursery ponds had been thoroughly prepared for at least two weeks following the standard protocols for pond preparation: a) pond drying, b) pond leveling, c) pesticide application, d) basal liming, e) basal fertilization, f) water fill up (at least 100 cm) and side dressing or additional fertilization. The natural bloom of phytoplankton was achieved (transparency of about 30 cm) before the stocking period. Proper acclimation procedure was observed during stocking. 

Milkfish fry fed on the natural food grown in the ponds and supplemented with commercial milkfish diets with a protein content of not less than 35% and fed based on the feeding schedule to be followed by the nursery operators. 

Optimum water quality was provided to the fish through regular water change done once a week at a 25-30% water exchange rate. Upon reaching 2-3 inches in length for a rearing period of one and a half to two months, the fingerlings were ready for harvest and for sale to local grow out milkfish ponds and cage operators. 

With the improved protocols, both cooperators produced more than the target fingerling production of 600,000 milkfish fingerlings per nursery cooperator per year or 4.2M fingerlings for the duration of the project and with survival rate of 50%. (### Maria Elena M. Garces)