WHILE pushing for a law to protect ludong, fishery experts are perplexed over the non-inclusion of ludong as endangered in the list of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (Cites) in the country at present.
In a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) statement, it said “this is an irony since authorities have long recognized the importance of the species.”
Max Prudencio Jr., BFAR information officer for Region 2, said that as far back as 1952, the then agriculture and natural resources ministry has already issued Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 31 prohibiting “the catching, selling or possession of ludong.”
Prudencio said that although the law still stands to date, its fine of P200 is now inadequate while the exorbitant market price of ludong is at P4,000 to P5,000 a kilo making it attractive for fishers to fish.
The proposed regulation, according to Prudencio, “prohibits the catching, selling and possession of gravid ludong during its spawning season from October up to the second week of November” and stipulates “a penalty of P80,000 and or imprisonment of six months to eight years.”
Except for the towns of San Guillermo and Dinapigue in Isabela, the BFAR has already secured a resolution of support from all provincial and municipal local government units on its proposal for the amendment of FAO 31.
Prudencio said that the Regional Development Council and Regional Committee on Sustainable Development for Region 2 have also issued a joint resolution for the same.
BFAR Regional Director Jovita Ayson, said the proposed FAO has already passed through the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council and “we are expecting it to be issued any moment before the coming ludong spawning season.”
Meanwhile, Ayson is appealing to all fishers “to cease from catching the fish and for consumers to suppress their appetite in order to provide the much needed respite for the fish.”
Dr. Evelyn Ame, head of the Oplan Sagip Ludong and research chief of BFAR for Region 2 said they have submitted to the BFAR Central Office a proposal amounting to P3.5 million to fund the continuation of studies and the conduct of new researches.
Also called as President’s fish, 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.
Leander C. Domingo