AQD organizes and hosts FAO expert workshop

“On-farm feeding and feed management in aquaculture” was the topic of the expert workshop that AQD organized and hosted for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the request of its Aquaculture Service (FIRA) from 13 to 15 September in Manila.

From the global synthesis, regional reviews, and case studies in eight countries, the experts agreed that (1) generally, the use of high quality feeds does not necessarily mean high returns, but that (2) feed management protocols on-farm can significantly reduce costs by 15-20% and thereby increase profits of fish farmers. An illustration of the second point is the experience of a farmer in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Hai, who heads a 36-member cooperative raising catfish. In his presentation, Mr. Nguyen said they are getting a benefit of about VND 923 (US$ 0.05) per kg fish when they reduced their feeding from twice to once a day even though the culture period was longer by a month or so. Considering that the cooperative produces 150,000 tons, the savings from feed management is substantial. He also said their farms have less disease incidence and the less-fatty catfish are more acceptable to processors.

The workshop identified these main issues in on-farm feeding and management: (1) limited access of farmers to information on feed and feed ingredients as regards their availability, prices and quality; (2) poor feed preparation and processing at the farm level; (3) lack of monitoring of feed and farm performances; (4) weak extension and dissemination of new strategies on improved feeding management (like alternate or skip feeding); (5) gaps in the understanding of the economic aspects of feed management; (6) need to develop health indicators for farm stock and integrate these to feed management; and (7) need for mechanisms to regulated feed quality. There were 47 participants, 10 AQD staff and 5 observers who attended and listened to results of farm surveys in Bangladesh, China, India, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, Egypt and Ghana.

AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo (3rd from left) and Mr. Kazuyuki Tsurumi (5th from right) at the opening of the workshop AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo, on the other hand, outlined AQD’s historical work on feed development and its role in assisting private sector development through the promotion of science-based, sustainable aquaculture technologies and practices. While Mr. Kazuyuki Tsurumi, the FAO representative in the Philippines, reiterated FAO’s commitment to helping countries manage their fisheries and aquaculture sectors effectively.

The species covered in the workshop include Nile tilapia, Indian major carps, striped catfish, whiteleg shrimp, tiger shrimp and freshwater prawn.


The workshop organizers Dr. Relicardo Coloso and Dr. Mae Catacutan (of AQD) flanking Dr. Mohammad Hassan of FAO-FIRA

Nutrition experts Dr. Albert Tacon and Dr. Sena de Silva









The participants deciding on priority recommendations

AQD signs accords with WorldFish and a private entity

WorldFish Center Director-General Dr. Stephen Hall and AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo AQD and the Malaysia-based WorldFish Center signed a memorandum of understanding on 21 July in Penang, Malaysia for joint research & training activities, exchanges of experts, and co-ownership of intellectual property of research results in the area of sustainable small-scale aquaculture development. WorldFish Director-General Dr. Stephen Hall and AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo signed on behalf of their respective institutions.

AQD also has a new agreement signed 16 September with a private company, the Singapore-based GAIA Mariculture, to provide technical assistance and extend its science-based

technologies on integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) in the GAIA farm in Cebu, the Philippines. The IMTA project involves sea cucumber, pompano & seaweeds, and will also seek the collaboration of human communities in Ronda Bay area in aquatic conservation measures.

AQD garners best research awards

AQD scientist Dr. MR Eguia (center) receiving her trophyAQD scientist Dr. Maria Rowena Eguia received the prestigious Dr. Elvira O. Tan Memorial Award for her paper on Genetic changes during mass selection for growth in Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (L), assessed by microsatellites. The paper was recognized as the Best published paper in aquaculture and inland fisheries by the Philippine Department of Science & Technology in a ceremony held 27 July at Los Baños, Laguna.

Dr. Eguia and her co-authors -- Dr. Minuro Ikeda, Dr. Zubaida Basiao, and Dr. Nobuhiko Taniguchi -- worked on the National Inland Fisheries Institute (NIFI) or Chitralada Nile tilapia strain, noting that there were changes in both the control (unselected) and selected (or improved) tilapia in terms of genetic diversity indices (alleles, heterozygosity, and inbreeding rate). They concluded that inbreeding levels in aquatic animal stocks can be detected using genetic markers, information that would be useful in formulating effective stock management protocols to minimize stock deterioration.

AQD Senior Technical Assistant Ms. Dianne Hope TormonAnother AQD research staff, Ms. Dianne Hope Tormon, was awarded the Best scientific paper for her work on Identifying women’s roles in sustainable aquaculture livelihood development: experiences from the oil spill crisis in Guimaras Strait in the Philippines during the 5th National conference of the national network on women in fisheries in the Philippines that was held 15-17 September in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

Ms. Tormon co-wrote the paper with AQD’s associate scientist Dr. Nerissa Salayo and socioeconomist Mr. Renato Agbayani, noting that the women were interested in every livelihood option and were willing to learn new skills to augment household income. Aquaculture offers opportunities for the productive use of skills of both genders but the activities are different though interrelated.

GOJ Trust-funded projects at AQD are reviewed

L-R: Ms. Frances Nievales, Mr. Antonio Pasaylo, Mr. Bobby Togle, and Dr. Nerissa SalayoTo ensure that AQD’s research efforts under GOJ-TF5 (Government of Japan Trust Fund Cycle 5) are on track and on schedule, a semi-annual progress meeting was held 13-15 July and 26 July. AQD Deputy Chief and GOJ-TF co-manager Dr. Teruo Azuma presided over the meeting, encouraging feedback and active discussion from the AQD study leaders who presented their preliminary results.

TF5 focuses on four areas namely: (1) promotion of sustainable and region-oriented aquaculture practices, (2) food safety of aquaculture products in Southeast Asia, (3) accelerating awareness and capacity-building in fish health management in Southeast Asia, and (4) resource enhancement of internationally threatened and over-exploited species in Southeast Asia through stock enhancement. This new set of projects is being implemented from 2010 to 2014 under the ASEAN-SEAFDEC Strategic Partnership (ASSP) of the Fisheries Consultative Group mechanism.

AQD holds training on abalone, marine fish, freshwater aquaculture

Eleven trainees completed AQD’s International training course on abalone hatchery and grow-out which ran 8-28 July. The trainees were from Malaysia (2), Philippines (8), and South Korea (1) with three of them sponsored by GOJ. In this course, lectures and practical sessions included abalone biology, principles of hatchery & seed production, feeds & feeding, principles of sustainable aquaculture, grow-out culture, industry experience of growing abalone, biology & grow-out culture of seaweeds, and financial feasibility & market potential of abalone. The trainees also visited a seaweed farm, AQD’s Dumangas Brackishwater Station, and a private abalone hatchery.

AQD scientist Ms. Myrna Teruel (in violet) supervising the trainees during feed preparationTrainees prepare larval food

Trainees fabricate nets

Trainees sample abalone larvae 5 days after stocking

Julius Lucky, the sole participant from the Marshall Islands A lone participant from the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean attended the month-long Special training on the hatchery of selected marine fishes which started August 10.

From April 23–24, 40 fishfarmers from northern Philippine towns in Rizal were in attendance for the Training on freshwater prawn and tilapia that was conducted in Filipino and in coordination with the Asian Social Institute. The course covered biology, how to rear prawns and tilapia in net cages including feeding management, and socioeconomic considerations in culture and marketing. There was also a practical session on the morphological identification of prawn broodstock and its larval stages.

Trainees of the freshwater fish  breeding and farming course with  BFA head Engr. Emiliano Aralar (2nd  from left)Another course, Freshwater fish breeding and farming, was held May 17 through June 4, with three international participants. Two were from Burkina Faso, and funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The third participant was from the Freshwater Fishery Research Center (FFRC) in Wuxi, China whose participation is in partial fulfillment of an existing agreement between FFRC and AQD. The course included an overview of freshwater culture, site selection & water quality monitoring, biology & induced spawning, larval rearing & growout, and nutrition & feeding of Asian catfish, freshwater prawn, bighead carp and tilapia.

AQD promotes aquaculture at two fairs

Guests of honor BRAF Assistant Director Gil Adora, UPV Chancellor Dr. Minda Formacion, and AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo during the FishLink 2010 exhibit openingAQD Technology Verification & Demonstration Head Dr. Ma. Rowena Eguia talks about advances in tilapia cultureJoining two fairs in the Philippines, AQD was able to promote its small-scale aquaculture technologies and technical assistance program for entrepreneurs. The first was in FishLink 2010, organized by the University of the Philippines Aquaculture Society and held 20-22 September in Iloilo City. AQD fielded nine of its experts to handle short talks on various cultured species and resource enhancement for local governments.

Some of the student & teacher participants of the S&T fairIn the Science and technology fair organized by the Department of Science and Technology from 15 to 17 September in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, western Philippines, AQD presented the mechanics of the Agree-build-operate-transfer (ABOT) aquabusiness program. The audience, which included the Palawan Live Fish Traders Association, was mostly interested in grouper cage culture.

AQD at fish health symposium in the USA

AQD Associate Scientist Dr. Ma. Michelle Peñaranda presented her paper entitled Specificity of DNA vaccines against  the U and M genogroups of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in rainbow trout (Oncorhyncus mykiss) during the 6th International symposium for aquatic animal health held September 4-9 in Florida, USA. Her travel was sponsored by the University of Washington.

In additional to the symposium, Dr. Peñaranda was able to present AQD’s facilities and research interests at the Western Fisheries Research Center - US Geological Survey, Seattle, USA on September 21.

AQD holds strategic planning and review meeting

The participants of the strategic planning and review meetingStarting 2011, AQD will steer into new directions as outlined during the In-house strategic planning and review conducted September 28-30 at AQD’s main station in Iloilo.

AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo emphasized that AQD will shift from taking on a commodity-based approach to adopting a thematic approach, specifically, having program themes based on the Regional technical consultation on aquaculture (RTC) held in March 2010.

In order to come up with a modified five-year strategic plan (2012-2015), AQD senior staff discussed in plenary and small-group workshops the harmonization of the 2009-2012 strategic plans with the five RTC themes. They also determined major gaps in current technologies, suggested priority R & D areas (i.e., research and information-education-communication), made action plans, and identified potential collaborations.

The RTC themes are: (1) meeting social and economic challenges; (2) supply of good quality seeds; (3) healthy and wholesome aquaculture; (4) maintaining environmental integrity through responsible aquaculture; (5) adapting to climate change.

AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo The Chief noted that although there are many proposed plans of action, issues on limited financial and human resources remain. “Let us consider these constraints as a challenge... Being a dynamic institution, AQD needs to be always at the forefront of any development, which is in line with AQD’s vision, and that is, to be a global leader in the generation of science-based technologies.” Thanking the staff for their active participation, the Chief encouraged everyone to “move together, move forward and work together, and bring a good future for AQD.”

The group working on how to meet social and economic challenges

AQD senior staff discuss the theme 'supply of good quality seeds'

The group working on the theme 'adapting to climate change'

Updated events: training courses





29 September –19 October

Iloilo, Philippines

Training Course on Abalone Hatchery and Grow-out


6-22 October

Iloilo, Philippines

Special Training Course on Crab Seed Production and Grow-out


12 – 26 October

Iloilo, Philippines

1st Training Course on Seed Production and Nursery of Sandfish (Holothuria scabra)


8 – 17 November

Iloilo, Philippines

Training Course on Community-based Freshwater Aquaculture


22 November –4 December


Special Training Course on Fish Nutrition


New publication

RPS-cover-front Reforming Philippine Science, 95 pages, is an edited compilation of articles, previously posted in websites or published as newspaper articles, by Raul Suarez and Flor Lacanilao. Suarez is a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA. Lacanilao is a retired Professor of Zoology at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, former Chancellor of UP Visayas, and former Chief of SEAFDEC/AQD. The authors argue for the importance of science as the foundation of technological development and economic progress. They draw on various sources to argue that scientific literacy is essential to the health of democracy and of society. The book is published by AQD with funding from the US National Science Foundation.

On-site HRD training on rural aquaculture and crab farming

The participants during the closing ceremonyA total of 17 participants completed the Human resources development (HRD) on-site training course on rural aquaculture conducted last March 8-11 in Hai Phong City, Vietnam. The course was a part of the training series being conducted by SEAFDEC in eight member countries under the project HRD on poverty alleviation and food security by fisheries intervention in the ASEAN region. Two AQD staff – socioeconomist Dr. Nerissa Salayo and training coordinator Ms. Ruby Bombeo -- gave technical and logistical assistance during the training which was designed by Ms. Chau Thi Tuyet Hanh of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The course was organized to help fish Cá bóp or sleeper fishfarmers find livelihood options and train them in small-scale culture of new species capable of living in deteriorating aquatic environment.

Topics covered are responsible aquaculture practices & food safety, sustainable rural aquaculture, issues and concerns in peri-urban aquaculture, shrimp culture, and alternative livelihood options. The participants also made two field visits, one to a small farm culturing cá bóp, also known as sleeper fish or goby which is suited to low-quality water, and another to a fish processing facility in Hai Thanh commune where drying of mackerel or tuna was presented as a livelihood option.

AQD scientist Dr. Emilia Quinitio gives a lecture In Chaung Tha, Myanmar where the HRD on-site course on mud crab seed production was conducted March 23-25, the attendees were 17 government fisheries workers. AQD sent its scientist Dr. Emilia Quinitio to be the resource person. The discussion focused on Scylla olivacea, the most common crab species in Myanmar, and included lectures on broodstock/larval rearing and practical demonstrations on morphology and evaluation of broodstock maturity & egg quality. The training was sponsored by Myanmar’s Department of Fisheries and the Government of Japan.


AQD conducts international courses on marine fish, crab, algae, and shrimp

Trainees visit a private farm for milkfish

  “I made the right choice in coming to AQD,” said Ms. Claudia Ehlers Kerber of Brazil upon completing the International training on marine fish hatchery which ran from May 26 to July 1. “This is because of the knowledge imparted unselfishly by AQD mentors and the skills we gained.” Ms. Kerber had 14 co-trainees from Indonesia, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sudan, Thailand, Sultanate of Oman, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Philippines.” Lectures and practicals covered a diverse selection of topics such as sustainable aquaculture, fish biology, natural food production, hatchery design & management, nutrition &  feeds, water quality monitoring, health management, economics, post-harvest, and marketing. The participants also made field trips.


The participants and AQD staff during the closing ceremonyFor the International training on crab hatchery and grow-out, six participants coming from the Sultanate of Oman,  Singapore and the Philippines completed AQD’s course held April 14–May 5. AQD resource persons lectured on seed production, nursery & grow-out, and industry status; and gave practical demonstrations on microalgae & Artemia culture as well as larval rearing and feeding. AQD Deputy Chief Dr. Azuma, in his message to participants, said that the course was conducted not only to instruct “how to produce good quality crab seed and how to grow healthy and high-value crabs” but also because there is a “need to disseminate new technology to ensure the sustainability of crab farming through environment-friendly methods.” 


Mr. Mohammed Mudhafar Al-Wahaibi

A sole participant from the Sultanate of Oman, Mr. Mohammed Mudhafar Al-Wahaibi,                                       attended the Special training course on algal isolation and purification that was                                                   conducted by AQD from April 14 to May 5.




A trainee examines pathogens during the practical on disease prevention and controlFor the Special training on shrimp farming (with emphasis on shrimp health management) that was conducted by AQD April 12-28, six participants attended, four of whom are staff of the National Prawn Company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The other trainees came from the Philippines and Sudan. The training course encompassed lectures and practicals on the shrimp industry; disease detection, prevention, & control; feed preparation; business planning & management; harvest & post-harvest; and site selection & pond preparation. The participants also went on field trips.



AQD and Zoological Society of London collaborate on CRM course

ZSL socioeconomist Ms. Josephine Savaris talks about community organizing and CRM planning Sustainable CRM or coastal resource management is the topic of a training organized by AQD and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) on two separate sessions – May 26 to 28 and June 16 to 18 – at AQD’s Iloilo station. The training was held in collaboration with the local government units (LGUs) and people’s organizations (POs) of Ivisan and Pan-ay, Capiz; Ibajay, Aklan; and Ajuy, Iloilo. Attended by a total of 66 participants, the course was aimed at preparing the participants in making their own CRM plans. Lectures included the concept of sustainable CRM, coastal & marine ecosystems, laws &  policies related to mangroves and CRM, livelihood & enterprise development, IEC or information-education-communication, shoreline management, coastal tourism, fisheries habitat management, coastal zoning, community AQD scientist Dr. Junemie Lebata-Ramos gives a lecture on coastal and marine ecosystemsorganizing, legal arrangement                                   & institutional development, and health & sanitation in coastal areas.

“Sustainable CRM is an area close to AQD’s heart, since this is what we have been hoping to achieve for the past 37 years,” said AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo during the closing ceremony. He also mentioned that AQD’s first CRM project was in Malalison island in Antique, west central Philippines. “We would like to see the lessons in Malalison applied by other communities, and AQD is willing to  provide technical support should LGUs and POs wish to engage in aquaculture as part of their CRM plan.” 

AQD's training & information head Mr. Renato Agbayani discusses livelihoods enterprise development for the Capiz participants

AQD socioeconomist Ms. Didi Baticados gives a lecture on livelihood and enterprise development to Aklan-Iloilo participants

AQD's development communication section head Ms. Mila Castaños lectures on information-education-communication








AQD exhibits in two events

AQD participated in two events and put up booths. The first was during the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia East Asia Growth Area’s (BIMP-EAGA) High-value aquaculture business conference held April 5-7 in General Santos City, southern Mindanao. AQD researchers Mr. Vincent Encena II and Ms. Ma. Rovilla Luhan were invited to deliver talks on abalone and seaweed farming, respectively, at the said conference.

The second was in Bohol. The Aquaculture technology 2010 convention organized by BFAR Region 7, Municipality of Calape and a private partner was held April 6-8.

 (L-R) AQD presentors Mr. Vincent Encena II and Ms. Ma. Rovilla Luhan with Dr. Jose Ingles of World Wildlife FundActor Cesar Montano (right) visited AQD’s booth ,manned by Mr. Rosenio Pagador during the Aquatech 2010 convention






AQD conducts post-harvest training for women

AQD organized two post-harvest courses for the women of Iloilo and Guimaras provinces. The Training on post-harvest and marketing of milkfish had 28 participants and was conducted on April 16 and on April 29. The training-workshop was aimed at building the women’s capability in the proper handling after harvest, value-adding and marketing of milkfish. The participants were taught deboning techniques and marinade preparation. Two researchers from the University of the Philippines Visayas were the resource persons. For the Smoked processing training for Guimaras women, AQD and Taytay sa Kauswagan Inc. (TSKI) joined forces. This was held April 15-16 with 20 fisherfolk from four villages attending. The course included deboning, smoking, and costing of milkfish which were taught by three small-business entrepreneurs.

Clockwise: Participants try their hand at deboning, marinating, and smoking bangus; bangus packaged and ready to be sold











  Packaged bangus Smoking bangus (in the middle is one of the small-business entrepreneurs)







Private sector thanks AQD

Ms. Betty Lua, AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo, and Mr. Fortunato Sanchez Jr. sign the closure agreement (seated, 3rd to 5th from left, respectively) as witnessed by the Lua family members AQD Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo signed the closure agreement with AQD’s private sector clients Ms. Betty Lua and Mr. Fortunato Sanchez Jr. on April 27 in their milkfish farm in Cebu City, Philippines. The technical assistance extended by AQD is under its ABOT Aquanegosyo program or Agree-build-operate-transfer aquabusiness which is AQD’s technology transfer mechanism for fish farmers and investors that is open to the region.




The Lua family farm in Cebu The Lua farm has a total area of 80 ha, but only 34 ha were developed for milkfish culture by AQD. From 2 tons of milkfish harvest in 2007, AQD was able to increase production to 36 tons in 2009. Ms. Lua said she was “very thankful that at least SEAFDEC is open to sharing with us their technology” and “giving us a chance to develop and fully utilize the area.”






New manuals, reports, flyer

Order these publications from

AEM 49 Farming of the tropical abalone Haliotis asininaFarming of the tropical abalone Haliotis asinina, a 30-page extension manual detailing site selection, nursery and grow-out operations, harvest and live transport, and economic feasibility. It also includes a flowchart of abalone culture and cooking recipes. Written by AQD’s VC Encena II and NC Bayona








AEM 46 Intensive culture of sea bass Lates calcarifer in brackishwater earthen ponds Intensive culture of seabass, Lates calcarifer Bloch, in brackishwater earthen ponds, a 34-page extension manual describing criteria for site selection, monoculture and polyculture operations including feeds and feeding, harvest, common diseases, and economic analysis. Written by AQD’s GS Jamerlan and RM Coloso








AEM 47 Mud crab nursery in ponds Mud crab nursery in ponds, 27-page extension manual that is highly illustrated, detailing the biology, nursery, harvest, marketing, costs-and-returns of mudcrab nursery in ponds. Published by AQD, it is a collaboration with ACE, MODE/SPPI, BVFMC, ACELT, BFAR and ACIAR-CATP








AEM 45 Fingerling production of hatchery-reared milkfish (Chanos chanos) in earthen nursery ponds Fingerling production of hatchery-reared milkfish (Chanos chanos) in earthen nursery ponds, a 32-page extension manual detailing the three types of nurseries, site selection, and pond preparation; fry selection, handling, transport, acclimation and stocking; fish monitoring, feeding, and harvest; and economics. It is written by AQD’s E Coniza, CL Marte, RM Coloso, and FH Huervana








AEM 44 Prevention and control measures against viral nervous necrosis (VNN) in marine fish hatcheries Prevention and control measures against viral nervous necrosis (VNN) in marine fish hatcheries, a 38-page extension manual that describes the clinical signs, behavioral changes, and species affected by the virus; detection, prevention and control methods are also included. Written by AQD’s LD de la Pena, the publication is funded by the GOJ-TF








The pawikan album - The sea turtles captured around Panay and Guimaras The pawikan album: the sea turtles captured around Panay and Guimaras Islands, Philippines, a 83-page book documenting the five species of sea turtles and a total of 93 individuals brought into the care of AQD’s FishWorld. With lots of full-color photos, it is written by TU Bagarinao, EF Doyola-Solis, and JE Fernando-Teves








SEAFDEC/AQD Highlights 2009 2009 AQD Highlights, a 44-page report of SEAFDEC’s progress in its aquaculture research, training and information dissemination mandates. The file may be downloaded from









Flyer_Prevention & control of parasites in groupers Prevention and control of parasites in groupers, a 4-fold flyer that tabulates the protozoans, monogeneans, didymozoid digeneans, nematodes, crustaceans and leeches that are parasitic to groupers in aquaculture. Prevention and control measures are included. The file may be downloaded from








New hatchery for sea cucumber at SEAFDEC

TIGBAUAN, ILOILO – At the price of US$180 to 250 per kilogram of dried sea cucumber in the United States, sea cucumber are good bets for fish farmers wanting to find the new “gold” in aquaculture.

This has driven SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department, the research center based in Iloilo, to develop the hatchery, nursery and grow-out technologies of the sea cucumber Holothuria scabra so that overexploitation of the wild fisheries on which the sea cucumber trade depends will cease or be minimized. Aquaculture can take the pressure off wild stock, enabling it to recover and allowing sustainable management plans to be put in place by local government units and people’s organizations in sea cucumber-rich areas.

Just recently, SEAFDEC built and inaugurated on April 28, 2010 a new sea cucumber hatchery in its main station in Tigbauan, Iloilo. The hatchery can produce as many as 0.2 to 0.5 million sea cucumber juveniles in a 45-day cycle from its ten 3-ton larval rearing tanks and four 8-ton nursery tanks. SEAFDEC has about 100 sea cucumber broodstock at present.

Attending the new hatchery inauguration are the partner-institutions of SEAFDEC in developing science-based sea cucumber technologies, such as the Research Institute for Aquaculture No. 3 (RIA-3) of Vietnam, the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) through the Malaysia-based WorldFish Center (WFC), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), the Government of Japan Trust Fund (GOJ-TF) and the University of the Philippines Visayas. RIA-3 helped design the SEAFDEC sea cucumber hatchery while ACIAR/WFC and JIRCAS, along with the GOJ-TF, are funding studies on sea cucumber. The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has likewise been instrumental in technology development.

Dr. Joebert Toledo, the Chief of SEAFDEC Aquaculture Department, noted that, next to Indonesia, the Philippines is the second largest exporter of dried sea cucumber in the world. In year 2006, the country’s export of sea cucumber totaled 3,532 metric tons valued at US$4.6 million. Sea cucumber, also known as sandfish or beche-de-mer, live on the seabed, look like slugs, are considered delicacies (i.e., aphrodisiacs), and are common ingredients in Chinese medicine.

Dr. Toledo further noted that profit-making for fisherfolk and aquaculturists is not the sole motivation in putting up the hatchery. Sea cucumber are also potential bioremediators in multi-trophic or polyculture systems as they apparently can subsist on or take in uneaten feeds and feces coming from cultured fish. At SEAFDEC, this concept is being tested in black tiger shrimp ponds, and in milkfish and abalone culture. In the latter, sea cucumber are placed under the sea cages to deal with the waste. This is in line with the concept and enforcement by SEAFDEC and the Philippine government, through DA-BFAR, of good management practices in aquaculture for environment protection.

Dr. Toledo also appealed to the new government administration to put more funds in aquaculture research and development because aquaculture is still the best strategy to put food on the tables of poor families in rural areas and to manage local aquatic resources sustainably. Coastal communities and local governments for instance can communally-manage sea ranching and stock release programs for such a valuable commodity as sea cucumber.

SEAFDEC or the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center is a regional treaty organization whose membership extends to the ten ASEAN countries and Japan. It is mandated to promote fisheries development in Southeast Asia. For more information, visit

Ceremonially opening the new SEAFDEC sea cucumber hatchery are (from left to right): SEAFDEC Deputy Chief Dr. Teruo Azuma, JIRCAS visiting scientist Dr. Satoshi Watanabe, SEAFDEC Chief Dr. Joebert Toledo, Dr. David Mills of  WorldFish Center, and Mr. Nguyen Dinh Quang Duy of Vietnam’s Research Institute of Aquaculture No. 3

The collaborating partners with SEAFDEC staff during the hatchery inauguration on April 28, 2010

Indoor larval rearing tanks

Algae is “painted” onto settlement plates for sea cucumber

Sandfish, also known as sea cucumber