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(BFAR region 2 files)

( This is an advance copy from One Luzon emag of the Philippine Information Agency)

Long Road to Conservation

The visit of typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu) in Cagayan Valley has brought advantage to the fishery sector: Ludong  (Cestraeus plicatilis) finally arrived.

The President’s Fish, which   spawn-run to the mouth of the Cagayan River in Aparri from its unknown sanctuaries, takes advantage of floodwaters during typhoons like Lando. While it has been  one of the most misunderstood fish species in the country, its very existence  has always been likened to a candle in the wind.

Of course the government since 1995 has taken a serious conservation look into what should be done to the region’s endemic fish for sustainability. Admittedly, the Project: Save Ludong, based in Dagupan, Pangasinan, under the prying eyes of fishery officials and personnel over there, failed for obvious reasons including the fact that ludong, for laboratory purposes, were caught along the Cagayan River in Aparri and physically brought to Dagupan, a good 12 hours travel by land.

Today, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in region 2 took the cudgel of taking it upon themselves to study the fish once again under Aparri laboratory setting. So far, only minimal data have been taken from the on-going research study started four years ago.

For the fishery bureau, the battlecry has always been on a ‘No retreat No Surrender”mode after local government units along the Cagayan River in Cagayan and Isabela provinces have thrown-in the necessary safety nets in favor of the agency the last decade.

Last year, Cagayan and Isabela  fisherfolk accepted the move of the agency to imposed a 45 days ban on ludong starting October 1. This year, the same was imposed.

On hindsight, fisherfolk finally realized the importance of the conservation measures as they were able to piece together a once-obscure ludong plan of the government.

Dr. Evelyn Ame of BFAR who is neck-deep into various research works on ludong said  the region may have to wait for some number of years  to determine whether such efforts will do good or  not  to the fishing industry.

With the directly-affected fisherfolk on ludong throwing their full support to the efforts, only time will tell whether we will finally bring back ludong on our tables or be confined to oblivion.

If only for these, the country, or the region for that matter, should indeed celebrate Fish Conservation Month. (BSY)

Wrath of ‘Lando’

What is bane to fishpond operators in the region can actually be a boon to  a vast population of the Cagayan Valley region.

This more or less was the afterthoughts of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Region during a media forum on the aftermath of typhoon Lando (international name: Koppo) vis-à-vis its effect on the fledging fishery industry. The forum has been part of a week-long celebration of the agency nationwide.

According to Dr. Severina Bueno of the Fisheries  production division of BFAR, only 303 fishpond operators in Cagayan  and Isabela were affected when floodwaters brought about by gusty winds of Lando  swelled their ponds and resulted in the escape of most of the harvestable species like tilapia  and bangus (Chanos chanos).

Partial reports reaching the media placed the damage at Ph7.3 million including destroyed motorized and non-motorized boats, particularly along the coastal municipalities of both provinces.

The last two decades saw BFAR dispersed millions upon millions of tilapia fingerlings and elvers in all major rivers and tributaries in the region aside from the provision of technological advancement to those in need of such tools.

Like her mother agency, the Department of Agriculture, BFAR likewise provides rehabilitation assistance to those fisherfolk affected by such natural calamities as typhoons.

Since it started its capacity enhancement trainings to its clients, the region has reported a 62 percent increase in the region’s fish sufficiency level since last year as compared to  a mere more than 30 percent the last few decades.

However, the bureau did likewise look into the other side of things.

“Those fishes from flooded fishponds will benefit our own people. They are still there in our inland bodies of water ready for the catch,” Bueno said.

The unmarketable sizes will likewise serve as additional replenishment to the region’s stocks in the wilds.

The region culture fresh and saline water tilapia, bangus, grouper, oysters, shrimps and lobsters aside from freshwater fishes like catfish.

With this year’s celebration focusing on strengthening of amended fisheries laws, BFAR said the region stands to benefit from all fisheries program of the government.

With or without natural calamities, that is. (BSY)

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