BFAR launches new breed of tilapia in Pangasinan

DAGUPAN CITY – A new hybrid tilapia called Molobicus, a new generation tilapia species, has been introduced to five pilot areas in Pangasinan.

In an interview on Friday, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (BFAR-NIFTDC) officer-in-charge Cordelia Nipales said this is in response to the call of Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar to increase food production under DA’s campaign program Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita.

NIFTDC Tilapia Molobicus unit head Nerafe Muyalde said the pilot areas in Pangasinan for the initial stage are Binmaley, Lingayen, Bani, Bolinao, and Sual towns.

“Individual fish-farmers from each place were chosen as cooperators of Molobicus hatchery,” she said.

Muyalde said they were selected based on the criteria set by BFAR-NIFTDC, which includes their facilities and their capabilities; background in tilapia or fish farming in general, and most importantly their source of water is brackish or saline water.

Each individual or cooperator will be given 1,000 breeders to start a hatchery operation after their training and would be monitored.

BFAR Region 1 OIC Dr. Rosario Segundina Gaerlan said the co-operators are not required to give back anything to the government for the assistance or opportunity has given them.

“It is a collaborative program. NIFTC-Dagupan center conducted the research while the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) provided the funding, while BFAR Ilocos Region’s role is promotion of the propagation of Molobicus Tilapia in fishponds with brackish water or high salinity water,” Gaerlan said.

She added that the goal of the project is to effectively transfer to farmer cooperators hatchery protocols on saline tilapia Molobicus using a hapa-based method for sustainable and quality seed supply and production.

A female breeder that is ready to spawn will release eggs in 15 days, and every 15 days thereafter, then, the fingerlings or fry can already be collected at the hatchery.

“Since our problem is we don’t have enough facilities for hatchery here at the center, we might as well start doing business with the farmers because eventually. This center will continue working on a new generation to improve the growth performance of molobicus that will, later on, be distributed to more farmers,” said Dr. Westly Rosario, former BFAR-NIFTDC center chief.

Birth of molobicus tilapia

Rosario, Molobicus Philippines project head, said they started working on molobicus at the center in 1999.

He worked with top geneticists from France.

“Why was it released just now? They (geneticists) said for a good hybrid we have to spend more than 10 years to develop. Two years is not enough to have a hybrid as its genetic characters will not be developed properly,” he said.

Rosario said they spent so much time to develop a new generation and for every generation they produced, the growth performance is improved by 10 percent.

He said the brackish water ponds nationwide cover around 240,000 hectares but due to climate change, saltwater intrusion in fishponds and farmlands had been observed.

While freshwater tilapia dies at salinity levels of 10-15 ppt (parts per thousand) but Molobicus can tolerate and grow at 35 ppt.

The program launch and training on Outscaling of Protocols on Saline Tilapia Molobicus (O. niloticus x O. mossambicus) through Backyard Satellite Hatcheries as Livelihood Support to Village Level Farmers in Pangasinan was held on Thursday at the NIFTDC office at Barangay Bonuan Binloc here.  Liwayway Yparraguirre /PNA –