The fisheries bureau in Cagayan Valley has firmed up its plan to save ludong, a rare fish in Cagayan Valley, from extinction.
The fishery officials here have formed an inter-agency task force, tasked to implement the planned interventions which will focus on research and development, conservation and protection, and intensified advocacy and information, education and communication campaigns.
Dr. Evelyn Ame, BFAR-Cagayan Valley ludong project leader, said at least four expeditionary teams from different government agencies would embark on exploratory fishing of ludong to determine the physiological-chemical and other environmental factors affecting its niche and possibly catch live specimen for breeding purposes.
Ame said that live specimen would be brought to Aparri where the bureau has constructed breeder holding tanks and a laboratory.
The teams are set to be deployed soon and will encamp at known or suspected ludong niches regionwide.
Studies on the taxonomic identification of the fish, population genetic structure of ludong, market analysis, evaluation of the characteristics of the species, and soil and water assessment on known ludong habitat, she said.
Jovita Ayson, fishery bureau regional director, said they have been working out for the issuance of a joint administrative order to be signed by the Agriculture and Interior secretaries for protection and conservation of ludong.
She appealed to all fishermen to voluntarily refrain from catching ‘ludong’ while the agency is still lobbying for the issuance of joint order.
“We appeal to our fishermen to refrain from catching ludong this season and for buyers to forgo their appetite in order to provide much needed respite for the species,” she said.
Researches said ludong is a rare and indigenous fish that thrives in the headwaters of the Cagayan river, and Bantay – Santa of the Abra river system in the provinces of Ilocos Sur and Abra.
It is catadromous, which means it thrives in freshwater but migrates to marine or seawater to spawn. Its suspected habitats in Cagayan Valley are in the Upper Pinacanauan River in the towns of Jones, San Agustin and San Mariano in the province of Isabela, Addalem River in Aglipay, Quirino and Dasimpit rapids also in Jones in Isabela. The fish migrates yearly towards the mouth of the Cagayan River in Aparri town to spawn.
Ludong is known as the Philippines’ most expensive food fish with its price reaching P4,000 to P5,000.00 per kilo during its last spawning run.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala earlier reported that the department officials had been finalizing the proposed administrative order.