Researchers make breakthrough in round scad selection

In a world first, researchers have successfully created the round scad (Decapterus macrosome) in captivity at SEAFDEC/AQD in Tigbauan, Iloilo, marking a critical step towards farming the fish, locally known as galunggong.

The round scad is considered a staple fish in the Philippines with over 202,000 metric tons harvested by commercial and municipal fisheries in 2020, according to government statistics. However, transport could not meet market demand, leading to higher prices, now reaching $5-6 per kg, and controversial moves to import the fish during closed fishing seasons.

Aquaculture is an increasingly important source of safe, nutritious and sustainable seafood for people around the world. Globally, aquaculture production must double by 2030 to keep pace with demand. These increases in demand for aquaculture products, food security considerations and job creation have generated an increased need for skilled workers.

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“Our spawners have been spawning continuously since December last year until February, and we now have thousands of galunggong in various stages from larvae to early juveniles in our hatchery which we hope will continue to grow to market size to prove that we can raise galunggong,” SEAFDEC/AQD chief Dan Baliao said in an interview on February 28, 2022.

My researcher. Irene Cabanilla-Legaspi said she started collecting wild spawners off southern Iloilo and Antique in 2020 as part of a Japanese government-funded project at SEAFDEC/AQD, the same research center responsible for the groundbreaking studies of milkfish reproduction in the 1970s and 1980s.

After collecting round broodstock aboard commercial fishing vessels and through fish traps, Cabanilla-Legaspi’s team transported them to SEAFDEC/AQD headquarters in Tigbauan and stocked them in aquaria for later use. prepare for chilling.

Broodstock captured in August and October 2021 started laying in December and continued to produce good eggs until February 2022. Although still in an early experimental stage, the hatchery has fry over 50 years old. days.

“Very fast” growth

“We observed that the fish were growing very quickly. When they reach the age of 20 days they are very fast growing and we can get a 2.5 centimeter round scad in 25 days,” Cabanilla-Legaspi said.

Although hatchery trials are limited, SEAFDEC/AQD scientist Dr. Leobert de la Peña noted that round scad fry also have a “very high survival rate” compared to other marine fish reared at SEAFDEC. /AQD, reaching up to 20% survival 25 days after hatching.

Meanwhile, the SEAFDEC/AQD team will continue to collect broodstock from the wild for further experimental trials which will also cover the study of fish larval development, reproductive development, feeding habits and formulation of breeding procedures. hatchery, nursery and grow-out.

“We hope that our attempts to cultivate galunggong will continue soon. We are excited to deploy the technology and promote the cultivation of galunggong so that prices become more affordable as farms can surely increase wild catches,” Baliao added.

SEAFDEC/AQD Deputy Chief Dr. Sayaka Ito also noted that round scad is a potential export product for the Philippines as it is now imported by Japan as otsumami, a kind of snack or snack. appetizers.

Round scad research is part of an umbrella program at SEAFDEC/AQD which aims to develop aquaculture technologies on new aquatic species which also include tunny (mackerel) and flathead lobster. The main objective of the research program is to complete the life cycle of these species in captivity and to develop production techniques for hatchery, nursery and grow-out.