The farming of milkfish in sea cages
By Roberto Garcia
THE many problems besetting the culture of milkfish in ponds, particularly poor water quality, flooding and the high cost of development, have led many operators to find alternative solutions. The prospect of culturing bangus in offshore sea cages in Pangasinan waters holds a promising future for the industry. In fact there were already many efforts done by several research institutions and private entrepreneurs to introduce the technology and were successful.
There are several advantages in using marine cages: the availability of suitable offshore areas for development; the greater efficiency and profitability due to higher stocking and survival rates; and environment-friendly in that critical fish habitats such as mangrove and coral reefs are not affected. On the other hand, factors such as cost of the fish cage, installation, and the technique of operation may deter others to adapt the technology.
Cage designs vary from the expensive circular Norwegian, Danish and Australian structures to the locally made galvanized structures promoted by Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center. The important thing here is that the cages can withstand the destructive winds and waves during the typhoon season. In fact there are already a few pioneers of the sea cages which are installed in western Pangasinan.
The use of marine cages in farming bangus, particularly in Dagupan City, should be considered seriously in the light of the perennial flooding, deteriorating water quality, and the rampant reclamation of fishponds in the area. These adverse realities are perhaps the result of development and climate change and are threatening the famous milkfish industry of Dagupan. Thus, this technology not only can maintain but may also increase production of the world famous Dagupan bangus.
Perhaps concerned organizations and local authorities should look into this.