Milkfish harvest. (Photo: SEAFDEC/AQD)
Biotechnology used to raise fish growth rates
Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
The Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Council (Seafdec) has been using biotechnology to advance aquaculture and managed to boost the growth rates of 10 marine fish species.
Dr Joebert D Toledo, head of the Aquaculture Department (AQD) of Seafdec, said the institution has been researching better breeding techniques of marine fish species to increase production and aquaculture growth domestically and in member countries.
The goal is to “improve the technologies for the culture of marine fish for sustainable aquaculture development, poverty alleviation in the countryside, and the reinforcement of aquatic resources and food security in the Southeast Asian region”, he stated, Tempo reports.
Seafdec is focusing on milkfish, grouper, sera bass, mangrove red snapper, rabbit fish, pompano, kikero, Napoleon wrasse, hybrid red tilapia, and sea horse.
Recently, Seafdec has been working on the expansion of bloodstocks of donkey's ear abalone, a species in high demand in the international market.
Seafdec hopes to improve the spawing frequency of their abalones via biotechnology techniques and swell their growth rate under experimental and eventually grow-out conditions, Business Mirror reports.
Milkfish and tiger shrimp were Seafec's two pioneering commodities in aquaculture, and the council now supports 16 hatcheries that have recently developed as backyard operations. These hatcheries also helped tackle the fry shortage a few years ago and have become indispensable to the upward milkfish sea-cage industry.
Regarding tiger shrimp, Seafdec introduced the mangrove-friendly shrimp technologies developed and tried out in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Thanks to ballooning financial support, Seafdec has strengthened its Laboratory Facilities for Advanced Aquaculture Technologies (LFAAT), which focuses on areas such as molecular microbiology, molecular endocrinology and genetics, algae production and fish feed technology.
Hundreds of studies have been conducted -- using biotechnology methods to improve broodstocks and prevent the spread of fish diseases -- in the facilities acquired through a grant-in-aid by the Japanese Government.
Toledo commented that as a result of dwindling fish populations in the wild, the region's best bet to minimise fishing lies in aquaculture. He said that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and other agencies have set up about 50 mariculture parks, starting with milkfish and now with high-value marine fish species like the grouper, snapper, seabass and pompano.
Seafdec scientists have begun breeding catfish, whose population diminished following the propagation of the much larger Thai and African catfish.
In partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Seafdec has pushed for livelihood programmes employing science-based technologies with the local government units (LGUs) and their NGO partners by way of their institutional capacity development for sustainable aquaculture programme.
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