PH gov’t moves to improve genetics material of bangus to increase long-term output

Published April 20, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Philippine government wants to improve the genetics material of bangus to increase its long-term output, but it may take 25 years to do this.

In a virtual briefing, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 3 Director Wilfredo Cruz said the government has moved to study how to improve the genetics material of local bangus production.

This, according to him, will be a massive program that will require hundreds of millions of budget during its initial implementation.

Cruz, who also serves as the government’s bangus focal person, said the initiative will involve a multi-sectoral research project that will be led by National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), the private sector, and the academe.

The result of the research will then be the basis of the government to draft a proposal for a long-term national program on this. 

“Within the year, we are positive about being able to craft a proposal and have it approved,” Cruz said.

“University of the Philippines and La Salle are helping us with the research as well as NFRDI, who is our research arm. The program will be under the research category. BFAR will then implement it,” he added.

Their primary goal is to be able to increase the size of bangus and at the same time reduce its food requirement in order to reproduce.

Compared to other aquaculture species like tilapia, which only needs 4 to 6 months to reproduce, bangus or milkfish needs at least five years to produce an offspring, said Asis Perez, convenor of Tugon Kabuhayan and former BFAR director.

Because of this, Perez said it make take 25 years before the genetics material of bangus will be improved, appealing for the government’s long-term commitment in this initiative.  
“We want this to be a national program and be funded over the next 10 years,” Perez also told reporters.

Just for broodstock development and the setting up of cages for local bangus production, Cruz said BFAR has a funding request of P649 million. This will increase once the genetics enhancement proposal has been finalized. 

Right now, the country has a deficit of 2.3 billion in bangus fry, with bulk of this being filled up through importation from Indonesia.  

Cruz said the government is now offering assistance to the country’s fry collectors.