TUGUEGARAO CITY: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) regional office here on Tuesday has rolled out a measure to ban the catching of Ludong effective during the last quarter of each year.
BFAR Region 2 Director Jovita Ayson said Administrative Circular (AC) 247 which is a fishery regulation is establishing a “closed season” on the catching of Ludong effective from October to November 15 every year.
Ayson explained that a “closed season” is a period during which the taking of specified fishery species is prohibited in a specified area in Philippine waters.
The new regulation covers the entire stretch of the Cagayan River, including its tributaries, headwaters and watersheds, and Abra River and its tributaries traversing Ilocos Sur which is Santa River and the Cordillera Region.
Ludong is a rare and indigenous fish that thrives in the headwaters of 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.
Ayson said the exorbitant market price of Ludong at P4,000 to P5,000 makes it attractive for fishers to fish despite the dangers posed by rough weather which coincides with the Ludong spawning run.
Also known as the President’s Fish’ she said, Ludong is the most expensive food fish in the country.
Once effective, the new measure will make it illegal for any person, association or corporation to catch or cause to be caught, using any type of gear or fishing method, purchase, sell or expose for sale, transport, export or have in possession fish known as Ludong, its by-products or derivatives, during the closed season.
Ayson said violators will be penalized an imprisonment of six months to one year and or a fine of P6,000 and forfeiture of catch and fishing gadgets.
If offense involves catching of spawning Ludong during the closed season, Ayson said a stiffer penalty will be imposed which is six months and one day to eight years imprisonment and or fine of P80,000.
She said export of spawning Ludong also carries a penalty of eight years imprisonment, confiscation of the same and fine equivalent to double the value of the same.
“We will deploy fishery law enforcement officers and personnel from the bureau and will also seek the assistance of local government units and other law enforcement agencies to implement the regulation during the closed season,” Ayson said.