Harvesting and marketing
Harvesting methods are very much dependent on the rearing techniques and the design of the farm. When thinning of stock during the culture period is involved or when multiple stocking and harvesting is practised, it is necessary to use gill or seine nets. Fish caught by gill netting are likely to be bruised and may lose some scales.The price of such fish in the Philippine markets is low. Even the fish harvested by complete draining of ponds do not command a good price in the Philippines, because the mud adhering to the fish is believed to impart a muddy flavour or taste. This is why milkfish pond farms in the country have special catching ponds. To harvest the fish, the rearing pond is partially drained at low tide and at subsequent high tide water is allowed to flow in through the catching pond. The fish swim against the current and enter the catching pond, from where they are easily gathered with seines or scoop nets. Some farmers use electrical fishing equipment for harvesting.
Taiwanese farmers use large gill nets for harvesting milkfish ponds, along with a scare-line to empty the stomachs of the captured fish. Milkfish with empty stomachs keep better during transport to markets. At the end of the rearing season, the ponds are drained after netting and the remaining fish picked up.
Special care is taken in handling milkfish in the Philippines because of consumer preference for unbruised fish with scales intact (fig. 21.11). The fish are often dipped in iced water before packing to prevent loss of scales during handling. Most of the fish are sold in fresh condition, but there is also an important market for deboned and smoked milkfish.
Available economic data on intensive mono-and polyculture of milkfish in ponds and in pens in the Philippines show high profitability in all these types of systems. Higher returns are obtained in polyculture with quick-growing species of shrimps.