TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region 2 has warned fisherfolk against catching Ludong or Lobed river mullet during the closed season starting in October.
Arsenio Bañares, BFAR-Region 2 Fisheries Management, Regulatory and Enforcement Division chief, said some 40 fisherfolk designated as Bantay Laot members were trained to help implement the Bureau’s Administrative Circular (BAC) 247 declaring a closed season on the catching of Ludong effective October 1 to November 15 and report violations.
”The designation of fisherfolk, majority of whom belong to the indigenous peoples group, as Bantay Laot members is part of the nationwide program to deter illegal fishing activities and protect threatened marine and aquatic species in municipal waters,” Bañares said.
The Bantay Laot members will receive P3,000 monthly allowance for the duration of the closed season.
BFAR Region 2 Director Milagros Morales said the coverage area of the closed season ban includes the entire stretch of the Cagayan River, its tributaries and headwaters.
She explained that during the implementation of BAC 247, it will be unlawful for any person, association or corporation to catch Ludong using any type of gear or fishing method.
The purchase, sale or exposing for sale, transport, export or in possession of Ludong, its by-products or
derivatives, during the closed season is also prohibited, Morales said.
Violators will be meted from six months to one year imprisonment and/or a fine of P6,000 as well as forfeiture of catch and fishing gadgets.
If the offense involves catching of spawning Ludong, a stiffer penalty of six months and one day to eight years imprisonment and/or fine of P80,000 will be imposed.
Export of spawning Ludong also carries a penalty of eight years imprisonment, confiscation of the catch and a fine equivalent to double its value.
Also called the President’s fish, Ludong is herbivorous, eating only the filamentous algae that live on rocks and boulders within river rapids. It is endemic to the Cagayan River and its tributaries extending through the watersheds of Cagayan Valley and the Santa-Abra River Systems of Ilocos Sur and Abra.
A mature Ludong weighs from 0.25 kilo to two kilos and costs P4,000 to P5,000 a kilo, making it the most expensive fish in the country. It commands a very high price in the market because it is seasonal and very difficult to catch.