Marine Research and Breeding Center

The newly completed fish tanks at the hatchery, less than one year ago a photo taken in this spot would have shown only coconut trees.
The newly completed fish tanks at the hatchery, less than one year ago a photo taken in this spot would have shown only coconut trees.

Last October 2014, I walked into a field of coconut trees and attended a ground breaking ceremony for Romblon’s soon-to-be Marine Research and Breeding Center. All around were sounds of frantic chopping and sawing. While this ground breaking marked the end of those coconut trees, now almost one year later stands a fish hatchery that is a source of employment in a very rural community and will maintain a provincial breeding stock of milkfish.

The construction is still ongoing but the hatchery is already operating!
The construction is still ongoing but the hatchery is already operating!
Milkfish, known locally as bangus
Milkfish, known locally as bangus

The milkfish is the national fish of the Philippines. Juveniles can be found in brackish estuaries and mangrove coastlines, but adults live and breed in the saltwater of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Milkfish aquaculture in the Philippines dates back roughly 800 years!

These milkfish are 12-years-old. Think back 12 years ago…what were you doing?! This important cargo had a private boat delivery from the larger Philippine island of Mindoro and will now be the breeding stock for our hatchery.
These milkfish are 12-years-old. Think back 12 years ago…what were you doing?! This important cargo had a private boat delivery from the larger Philippine island of Mindoro and will now be the breeding stock for our hatchery.

If you live in Romblon and are interested in starting milkfish aquaculture, you are in luck! Once your home fish pond or cage is approved to raise fish, you can purchase the fingerlings (baby fish) produced from the milkfish in the photo above. If you raise these babies to maturity, not only will you have food for your family (careful, the milkfish is quite bony!) but you can sell the fish at the local market for a profit.

I got to swim in the tank with the breeders!
I got to swim in the tank with the breeders!

Already this hatchery is a success! It has created numerous new jobs, it is a site for fisheries students to complete on-the-job training and skills development, its milkfish production is useful throughout the province, and it will be a site of ongoing research for improving fisheries technology. I visit the hatchery in my free time to help with operations or even to clean the tanks. Once, when we finished work early, I hopped in an empty fish tank with a staff member and taught a swim lesson!

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