Monday, June 11, 2018

Ilocos Norte eyes preservation of exotic freshwater fishes, shells

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—Owing to the unabated exploitation of exotic freshwater fishes and shells in the province’s inland bodies of water, the Ilocos Norte government, in collaboration with other government agencies and local government units, has set up a long-term plan to preserve them before they face possible extinction.

Due to extreme pressures of the environment, Arthur Valente, provincial fishery coordinator under the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPAG) reported on Friday a convergence project proposed to the 21 towns and two cities of the province for the establishment of brass parks and cages for breeding and seeding of various freshwater fishes, including shells.

“As part of our resiliency program, we need to culture our indigenous fish species so that they will not go extinct,” said Mr. Valente citing native ar-aru, gurami, dalag, paltat and mosquito fish among others, now considered rare compared in the old days when these are always present in the Ilokano table.

Since 2016, Mr. Valente narrated pilot farms for the culture of carp, tilapia, and pangasius are already set up in the small water impounding projects located at Brgys. Pimentel, Baoa, Dariwdiw, Nagbacalan and Magnuang in Batac City.

Mr. Valente said this is in support to the Department of Agriculture program dubbed, “Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa” (BASIL) where concerned groups and individuals seed the country's major river basins and lakes with fingerlings of indigenous and non-invasive fish species.

The Basil program complements the National Inland Fisheries Enhancement Program of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), to provide Filipinos greater access to available food and address poverty and hunger in the countryside.

In the Philippines, the Basil project has identified at least seven major lakes and six major river basins as the initial areas targeted for the fingerlings seeding.

These include Laguna de Bay, Lake Lanao, Taal Lake, Lake Mainit in Surigao del Norte, Naujan Lake in Oriental Mindoro, Buluan Lake in Maguindanao and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

The major rivers also include the Cagayan River Basin, Mindanao River Basin, Agusan River Basin, Pampanga River Basin, Abra River Basin and Bicol River Basin.

Among the seeded indigenous species in the lakes and rivers are ayungin, biya, kanduli, Martinique, the native catfish or hito, and the Black Head Eel or igat.

In Ilocos Norte, local authorities have also included the culture of exotic freshwater shells such as birabid, agurong and native snails including freshwater plants like ballaiba, tarabang and bagot.

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