TWENTY minutes before midnight of April 10, 2007, the stillness of Taguines Lagoon in Benoni, Mahinog, Camiguin province was broken by violent chasing and splashing movements of fishes being kept in a floating net cage.
The commotion was the sound of a hundred milkfish spawning numerous eggs at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-Northern Mindanao station at Taguines Lagoon. Averaging about 1.2 millimeters in diameter, the transparent eggs were laid by their seven-year-old mothers in a floating net cage measuring 10 meters wide and 3 meters deep.
Closely monitored by BFAR's technical staff, the milkfish broodstock forms part of the bureau's Regional Milkfish Program headed by BFAR Regional Director Arlene B. Pantanosas. It aims to ensure the sustainable growth of the milkfish industry in the region by providing technologies for fry, fingerling, grow-out and post-harvest operations.
Eggs spawned by the broodstock will be hatched and the larvae will be reared in a proposed multi-species fish hatchery in Manguyod, Sagay, Camiguin, 20 minutes away from the broodstock site.
The hatchery targets a production of 2 million fry monthly. Fry produced will then support not only Region 10 but also the neighboring Caraga and Western Mindanao regions of their fingerling pond production, grow-out cages in the mariculture park, and eventually, the processing plant.
These operations are expected to rake in P40 to 70 million annually from these 100 captive broodstock. This year, BFAR 10 will rear another batch of juveniles to broodstock phase in 5 years to continue the propagation.
The Regional Milkfish Program is spearheaded by Gigi Albor of the Research Division of BFAR 10, ably assisted by Dr. Arnil C. Emata, formerly of SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department.