TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: It is all systems go for the development of the eel industry in the country with the Eel Management Plan (EMP) formulated by technical experts, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
Evelyn Ame, the plan’s focal person and concurrent BFAR-Cagayan Valley Training Division chief, said the EMP was formulated in collaboration with concerned agencies and contains proposed interventions that focuses on the “sustainable utilization and conservation” of eel resources.
Ame explained that the plan on “sustainable resource utilization” focuses on the development of studies on culture of eel (Anguilla spp.), nursery grow-out, feed formulation and farming systems.
Sustainable utilization also includes the formation of fisher folk associations and cooperatives, which will enable eel farmers to have better leverage in the market.
She also explained that on the “sustainable resource conservation,” the focus is on the strict implementation of regulatory measures including traceability, eel researches and establishment of management measures, alongside an advocacy campaign.
Between 2012 to 2013, a massive spike in demand for elvers (young eel) in the global market led to a huge increase in its buying price or as high as P45,000 per kilo.
Ame said that as a consequence, the high buying price led to the unabated harvesting of eel. This resulted to the issuance by the national government of the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 242, which prescribed a 15-centimeter limit in length for elvers set for export.
The plan also includes the resolution of specific issues such as wastage of A. marmorata, as exporters mostly prefer A. bicolor species.
“The eel development plan will enable industry players to tap into this huge export potential without compromising sustainability of the resources,” Ame said.
It was on November 13 when fisheries experts from BFAR central and regional offices, and the agency’s Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) converged to come up with the plan for the development of the eel industry.
The experts, which also included representatives from the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center based in Thailand, and non-government organizations called for the formulation and implementation of the eel management plan in all involved regions as well as for the entire country.
The BFAR said that the implementation of sub-activities under the plan will start next year.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has already committed an initial funding of P20 million for the development of the eel industry.
“We thank the DA [Department of Agriculture] national leadership for funding this initiative. A holistic approach, as envisioned in the plan, is what we need in order to fully tap the potential of our eel resources,” BFAR-Cagayan Valley Director Milagros Morales said.