A delicious fish that needs no seasoning, no scaling, has few bones, fits perfectly in a pan, and has a mild, sweet flavor that goes with almost any recipe. It’s no wonder the pompano is called by some “the most edible fish in the world.”
This silvery fish, with pearly white flesh when cooked, is known as “apahan” or “dawis lawin” in the Philippines. Its price in the market is between P300 and P500 per kilogram, depending on the size, which is usually between 250 and 500 grams.
Pompanos naturally inhabit coral reefs, but they also adapt well to being kept in marine fish cages and brackish water fish ponds where they grow rapidly and readily take in formulated foods.
However, despite its proven culinary and aquaculture value around the world, the pompano has yet to take off in the Philippines. This is mainly due to the lack of pompano fry to stock in cages and ponds, and infections with sea lice.
Either way, an international research center based in Tigbauan, Iloilo is determined to promote the pompano as the next big thing in Philippine aquaculture.
“We have been actively researching pompano snubnose since 2007, but over the past two years we have stepped up our commercialization plans to show the industry that pompano farming is a good investment,” said Dan Baliao, head of SEAFDEC. /AQD.
Between January and August 2022, Baliao added that they harvested pompano 10 times from sea cages and brackish water ponds, bringing back a total of 14 tons of the high-value commodity through its multiple experimental trials.
The research center is also building a dedicated Pompano hatchery at its Tigbauan headquarters to further strengthen its research and commercialization activities. The new facility has a breeding capacity of 80 tonnes and can also supply private breeders.
Baliao also shared that SEAFDEC/AQD has already published research and continues to do studies on several fronts, including the development of a low-cost diet, strategies to accelerate growth at the nursery stage, reduce sea lice infestations and prevent the transmission of nerve necrosis virus. which affects pompano spawners and larvae.
Alternative to milkfish?
Because the pompano is relatively easy to farm and uses the same pond and cage setup, Baliao said the pompano is a good alternative to milkfish, which is currently the highest farmed fish in the Philippines.
“With its superior taste and premium value, the pompano is something fish farmers should seriously consider. The Philippines just needs more investment in Pompano hatcheries to provide the seeds farmers will need.
To this end, Baliao says SEAFDEC/AQD has been in close partnership with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) since 2018 to design and implement multi-species hatcheries across the country. country.
“It will only be a matter of time. The technology to produce pompano is there, and SEAFDEC continues to add improvements every year. Help us commercialize our science, and you’ll soon taste and see that the pompano is good.
Cultivation in marine and brackish water
Since 2008, SEAFDEC/AQD has been raising pompanos in marine fish cages by feeding them formulated food. A stocking density of 35 fish per cubic meter is used in sea cages which are 10 meters wide, 10 meters long and 4 meters deep.
In cage culture, fish can be stocked at higher densities, harvesting is easier, and predation is more easily controlled. The constantly flowing water also provides abundant dissolved oxygen and flushes away waste and uneaten food.
The research center also breeds the pompano in 5,000 square meter brackish water ponds, with salinity as low as 20 ppm, at a stocking density of 0.5 to two fish per square meter. In pond culture, there is no expense for nets and mooring, and natural food can grow, reducing the demand for commercial food.
Whether caged or ponded, it takes four to five months for the fish to reach a marketable size.