|Economics of the Philippine Milkfish Resource System (UNU, 1982, 66 pages)|
|II.The procurement sub-system: fry gathering and distribution and fingerling rearing|
TABLE 8. Net Return (Loss) to Nursery-Pond Operators for Rearing Two-, Three-, and Fourd-Inch Fingerling, January 1976-July 1977 (Pesos per Thousand)
|Net returns (loss)a|
|For 2" fingerling||For 3" fingerling||For 4" fingerling|
|Weighted average for whole period||13.9||15.7||34.2|
Source: See note 12(b).
a. Net return (loss to nurserypond operator's capital, own and family labour, and management).
n.a. = not available.
Laguna de Bay will continue to influence fry demand, a more dramatic impact on the existing fry-procurement sub-system in the future is likely to come from the supply side in the form of milkfish fry hatcheries. Some limited success has already been achieved in inducing pond-raised milkfish to spawn in captivity. Although commercial hatcheries are probably several years, if not more than a decade, in the future, it is useful to comment briefly here on possibilities for their development and management.
While it was earlier argued that fry catch is adequate to meet present stocking requirements, it was also pointed out that increased production from existing pond areas will require more intensive production techniques, including increases in stocking rates. Since it is not possible at present to determine the true extent of the fry resource, it is difficult to say whether or not milkfish hatcheries will be required. However, if they can produce lower-cost fry, they will be a boon to milkfish producers, and ultimately to consumers.
The long-term success of hatcheries depends upon whether they can supply fry in large quantities at a competitive price and of a quality equal to those available from the natural fishery. Because of the highly seasonal nature of fry supply from the natural fishery, and consequent price fluctuations, it is possible that hatcheries will only be able to compete during the off-peak fry season when prices exceed P90-100 per thousand. For purposes of rough comparison, hatcheryproduced fry of tilapia (Sarotherodon niloticus) are currently selling for P110-200 per thousand depending on size. If fry are available from hatcheries in this manner, hatcheries could have a stabilizing effect upon fry prices that would greatly benefit the milkfish industry and aid intensification programmes that require multiple stockings. In addition, they could provide fry even after typhoons, a form of insurance stock that would also greatly benefit the industry.
The extent to which hatcheries will displace those at present dependent upon the natural fishery depends on the location of hatcheries and the timing of their production. There is the opportunity, if hatcheries are government regulated, to phase their production so that the displacing effects are gradual, allowing for adjustment within the natural fishery. For example, hatcheries could be used primarily as a price stabilization and insurance scheme rather than one that would totally replace the natural fishery. If hatcheries are privately owned and are able to produce large quantities of competitively priced fry, one can expect the impact on gatherers, municipalities, and middlemen depending on the natural fishery to be more rapid and dramatic. Since the procurement sub-system at present supports approximately 175,000 persons, careful planning of hatchery development is of major importance and will require continued monitoring of progress towards artificial propagation of milkfish so that the impact on the natural fishery and the milkfish industry can be managed for maximum social benefit.