Amid the irremediable decline of capture fisheries, the Philippine government has identified aquaculture as a sector that will ensure food security and generate new job opportunities geared toward the country’s goal of economic development (Nagothu and Ortiz 2007). Aquaculture of giant freshwater prawn Macrobrachium rosenbergii (Fig. 1) is an emerging program that is intended to expand and vary the aquatic species used in freshwater aquaculture, which is still predominantly based on tilapia (Rosario and Tayamen 2004). Attractive characteristics of freshwater prawn culture include ease of breeding, high hatching rate, superior quality of meat and high market value (Keysami and Mohammadpour 2013). Giant freshwater prawn is cultured in about 43 countries, with Asia representing more than 98 percent of global production (Mather and de Bruyn 2003). Principal producers are Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam (New and Nair 2012). It is widely distributed in most tropical and sub-tropical countries, including the Philippines. More than 100 species exist globally, 12 of which are found in the Philippines (Rosario and Tayamen 2004). The giant freshwater prawn is a dominant species, along with four others. It thrives in inland bodies of water in Agusan, Bicol region, Bulacan, Cagayan, Cotobato, Ilocos, Laguna, Lanao, Leyte, Maguindanao, some parts of Mindanao, Palawan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, and Samar (Rosario and Tayamen 2004). Names for freshwater prawn in local dialects are ulang (Bulacan, Laguna, Zambales and most parts of the country), udang (Ilocos, Cagayan and other parts of Northern Luzon), urang (Leyte), budsang (Bicol), kalig (Leyte), kisingkising (Pangasinan), padao (Cotabato), and paje (Palawan and Zamboanga) (Rosario and Tayamen 2004, Tayamen 2005). The culture of freshwater prawn in the Philippines started in the 1970s. Culture trials ensued (Fig. 2), but technology was not sustained at the commercial level. Massproduction of seed and post-larvae were established by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the early 2000s. Since then, BFAR and other government agencies have conducted technology dispersal programs. Freshwater prawn production in ponds increased from 2.80 t in 2010 to 2.86 t in 2011 (BFAR 2010, 2011). The same trend was seen in aquaculture systems using small-farm reservoirs, which produced 1.56 t in the same year, an increase of 0.30 t from the previous year (BFAR 2010, 2011). The giant freshwater prawn is considered to be the world’s largest shrimp. In the wild, freshwater prawn can grow to 500 g and fetch approximately US$ 10/kg (Tayamen 2005). The freshwater prawn is gradually establishing a niche in local markets and also represents a multi-million dollar export opportunity to Japan, US, Taiwan and the European Union. Freshwater prawn is a high-value species that represents an alternative to black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon and whiteleg shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Farmed freshwater prawns on average weigh from 30-100 g, which about the same size as medium to jumbo black tiger shrimp.
Ragaza, Janice. (2016). Challenges and Opportunities in the Culture of Giant Freshwater Prawn in the Philippines. World Aquaculture. 47. 59-61.