Department of Agriculture
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
October 23, 2012
Updates on endemic and indigenous aquatic species
The once rich Philippine inland fisheries have been suffering a steady decline in production over the years due to improper fishing activities and invasion of alien species.
Data from DA-BAS reveals a minimal but consistent drop in indigenous fish catch in the country’s lakes and reservoirs. Fish species such as biya and ayungin are slowly losing their niche in the wet markets and on a Filipino family’s table as production hits low in the recent years.
This can be attributed to poor and abusive fish stocking and proliferation of alien and invasive species in our major lakes. The presence of the predatory knife fish has set drawbacks in Laguna Lake, the country’s biggest inland body of water with a surface area of 911 square kilometres. This species are heavy eaters, feeding on fingerlings and fry of other fish species resulting in significant decrease in their population.
Fisherfolks have reportedly said that most indigenous species they used to catch in Laguna Lake have already gone extinct. Out of the many indigenous species like martiniko, igat, and dalag that used to inhabit the lake, only a few remained.
BFAR continuously monitors the population of high-priced fish species such as ludong and pigek. Ludong, caught in the rivers of northern Luzon, is called the “President’s Fish” for its high market value of P5,000 per kilogram. Pigek, on the other hand, is a valued fish with taste similar to lapu-lapu is now in danger of becoming extinct due to rampant overfishing in rivers in Cotabato, where it is endemic.
In order to protect and conserve the aquatic wildlife including the indigenous species, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) issued Fisheries Administrative Order 233-1 in 2010.
FAO 233-1 s. 2010 echoes RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 which mandates “the State to conserve the country's wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainability.” Violations under this Act include killing and destroying wildlife species, trading of wildlife, and collecting, hunting or possessing wildlife, their by-products and derivatives and are punishable with a maximum imprisonment of six to twelve years and a fine of P100, 000 to P1, 000, 000.
BFAR persistently embarks on scientific undertakings with conservation as its main goal. Current studies are underway for the formulation of breeding and grow-out protocols for endemic and indigenous aquatic species in the national and regional centers of the bureau. In addition, BFAR plans to establish a Freshwater Biodiversity Center in Liguasan Marsh in Central Mindanao that will inventory all endemic and indigenous species and undertake researches that will ensure the survival of the species for the generations ahead.