Nueva Ecija, Philippines - The Philippines made its debut at the world's largest seafood fair in Brussels, Belgium, this year, showcasing some of the products that have made the Philippines the 8th leading fish-producer in the world.

 

Photos

Ground-breaking studies at Central Luzon State University, in collaboration with research at North Carolina State University, have revolutionized feeding strategies, and increased profits, for tilapia fish farmers across the Philippines. This is one of many long-term, high impact studies supported by the AquaFish CRSP, and one that has made a measurable improvement to the profits of small- and medium-scale fish farmers in southeast Asia.
Dr. Remedios Bolivar, third from left, immerses her graduate students in field-based research. Remedios, a professor at Central Luzon State University and a collaborative researcher with AquaFish CRSP, has been instrumental in documenting the success of reduced feeding strategies for tilapia aquaculture in the Philippines.
A parade of beautifully painted boats launch onto Lake Taal, where fish farmers monitor hundreds of tilapia cages offshore. AquaFish CRSP sponsored research has helped low-income Philippine fish farmers increase profits and protect water quality by changing the way they feed their fish.
Fish farmers head to tilapia cages in Lake Taal before dawn for the first of several daily feedings. AquaFish sponsored research has shown that for tilapia grown in earthen ponds with plenty naturally occurring pond foods , fish farmers can save as much as 60 percent on the cost of feeds by reducing feed rations.
Among tilapia fish farmers in the Philippines, as much as 70 percent of variable production costs go to buying supplemental feed. And some of the uneaten feed inevitably drops to the bottom beyond the suspended cages, wasted as food for fish and polluting the water. AquaFish CRSP research points to a practical solution: feed fish less food.
Farm-raised tilapia are sold live throughout the back roads of the Philippines. AquaFish CRSP is working with small-scale fish farmers to develop feed reduction strategies that save farmers money and still produce healthy, full-size tilapia within the standard 150-day grow-out period to reach market size.

 

Press Release


12-09-11

USAID research increases profits for small-scale fish farmers in southeast Asia

By Peg Herring peg.herring@oregonstate.edu

Sources:Russell Borski (russell_borski@ncsu.edu and 1-919-515-8105); Remedios Bolivar (rbolivar@mozcom.com and 63-44-4565279, 4560680); Evelyn Grace D.J. Ayson (edjayson@seafdec.org.ph and 63-9173081182)

Nueva Ecija, Philippines - The Philippines made its debut at the world's largest seafood fair in Brussels, Belgium, this year, showcasing some of the products that have made the Philippines the 8th leading fish-producer in the world.

Back home and out of the limelight, equally important breakthroughs are occurring for the more than 40 percent of the fish farmers in the Philippines who live in poverty. Small-scale, low-income Filipino fish farmers are increasing profits and protecting water quality by changing the way they feed their fish.

As much as 70 percent of a fish farmer's variable production costs go to buying supplemental feed. And some of the uneaten feed inevitably drops to the bottom of their freshwater ponds, wasted as food for fish and polluting the water.

The solution? Feed fish less food.

Remedios Bolivar, a professor at the College of Fisheries, Central Luzon State University in the Science City of Muñoz, and her U.S. research partners Russell Borski, a professor of biology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and Christopher Brown of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration are working with small-scale fish farmers in the Philippines to develop feed reduction strategies that save farmers money and still produce healthy, full-size tilapia within the standard 150-day grow-out period to reach market size.

Brown, Borski and Bolivar tested three different approaches to reducing feed for pond-raised tilapia: delay the start of supplementary feeding, feed every other day, or feed below the level of satiation.

Their results document that tilapia grown in earthen ponds with plenty of algae and other natural pond foods can do just fine with any of these reduced feeding regimes, effectively reducing supplemental feed costs without significantly reducing growth, survival or market yield.

"By reducing feed rations, fish farmers can save as much as 60 percent on the cost of feeds which can enhance the profitability of growing fish by as much as 40 percent relative to fish grown on a typical full daily ration," Borski said. "That's big."

Evelyn Grace D.J. Ayson, who also works with Borski, found similar results--up to 60 percent savings in feed costs--with reduced feeding of milkfish, a regional favorite marine fish.

"Equally important are the reduced environmental impacts that come with reduced feeding strategies," said Ayson, who heads the Research Division of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center in Iloilo.

Ayson and her research team documented reductions in dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus in the water and reduced hydrogen sulfide in marine sediments around the cages where feed was reduced, compared to cages where milkfish received regular full daily rations.

This research means big change for low-income fish farmers in the Philippines and elsewhere in developing parts of the world. It is the work of the Aquaculture & Fisheries Collaborative Research Support Program (AquaFish CRSP) which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Ayson, Bolivar and Borski are part of the AquaFish CRSP, an international research program headquartered at Oregon State University that connects U.S. university scientists with research partners in developing countries.

The idea of delayed feeding came from another AquaFish CRSP researcher, James Diana of the University of Michigan, while he was working with fish farmers and scientists in Thailand during the 1990s.

"We saw how reduced feeding of tilapia could save money on feed costs and reduce pollution of the water ," Diana said. Through the AquaFish CRSP network, reduced feeding strategies are now being tested by fish farmers and researchers in other parts of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Like most larval fish, tilapia retain a yolk-sac for the first few days of life. Living off the stored nutrients in this sac, young tilapia can gradually adjust to the plant-eating life of an adult. Historically, fish farmers added no supplemental feed for tilapia, choosing instead to fertilize the pond to feed the plankton and let the pond feed the fish.

As tilapia aquaculture developed and became more intensive, fish farmers began using supplemental feed to speed the growth and increase the size of fish at harvest. But as the cost of feeding fish increases, it may be worthwhile to consider these cost-saving strategies, according to Bolivar.

To reach Filipino fish farmers, and anyone else in the world, with information on these new strategies, Borski and his colleagues have produced a series of podcasts describing the reduced feeding strategies. The Tilapia Podcasts are available at: (https://deimos.apple.com/WebObjects/Core.woa/BrowsePrivately/ncsu.edu.17...)

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About the AquaFish Collaborative Research Support ProgramAquaFish CRSP, which supports aquaculture and fisheries research in 20 countries, aims to improve diets; generate income for small-scale fish farmers and fishers; promote sustainable environmental practices; and enhance trade opportunities. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and by participating U.S. and Host Country institutions. Oregon State University serves as the lead institution responsible for technical and programmatic leadership of AquaFish CRSP in the United States and abroad.