With the increasing demand for food fish, the decline in capture fisheries production, and the exhaustion of mangrove areas available for fishpond expansion, aquaculture in the Philippines is heading towards intensification and the utilization of coastal waters for cage and pen fish farming. This shift from low density to high density culture is consequently leading to an unprecedented rise in the demand for feeds more than that of fertilizers.
At present the supply of the majority of locally available feedstuffs is already limited and the seasonal availability and occurrence of natural calamities compound this problem. This situation is likely to worsen with the rapid growth of the poultry and livestock farming sectors. Unless production of local feedstuffs is increased and its utilization made more efficient, the growth of fish culture, as well as that of land-based animal farming, are bound to be more and more dependent upon the use of imported raw materials. Aquaculture specifically requires high protein feed ingredients, such as fish meal and soybean oil meal, which have very little domestic production. The aquaculture industry must work towards ways and means of efficiently managing and utilizing local feedstuff resources, such as by improving processing methods, increasing digestibility and nutritional value, extending shelf life and freshness, and by developing formulations specific for each species, culture system, and culture environment. Efficiency in feed utilization can also be better attained by ensuring hydrostability and by employing appropriate feeding methods and strategies. The streamlining of marketing channels and the development of non-conventional feedstuffs that are economically and commercially viable to mass produce, will be particularly valuable for the feed industry.
The rapid expansions in fish, poultry, and livestock farming due to the high demand and attractive profit margins will imminently result in an oversupply of products. As farmgate prices eventually fall, production costs and competitiveness of aquaculture could be improved through the greater use of fertilizers. However, the prospect of a significantly increasing yield in the countrys 200,000 ha of predominantly shallow brackishwater milkfish ponds through improved fertilization practices will be difficult to realize unless the ponds are deepened or life support systems are used. Competing use with agriculture is already limiting the supply of chicken manure in major aquaculture centres although the abundant supply of livestock manure offers a potentially valuable resource if technology and economic feasibility for its use can be established.
In conclusion, it is hoped that the information presented in this Atlas will promote the greater and more effective use of locally available raw materials for feeds and fertilizers, and at the same time reduce dependence on imported feedstuffs. It is also hoped that the discussions will help provide insights to farmers in their adoption of technologies for increasing productivity and profitability. This manuscript is a first step towards the enormous task of rationalizing the use of the countrys limiting and abundant resources for aquaculture development and food production. The author encourages the reader for feedback and suggestions on how to improve future editions of this Atlas.