Cagayan town passes seaweed protection law

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SANTA PRAXEDES, Cagayan: Local officials here have passed a resolution to protect “gamet,” a black seaweed popularly used in sushi dishes and which the town fondly calls Praxadenian “black gold.”

Dr. Paciente Cordero Jr., a Leyteno marine biologist, said this new species of “gamet” or Porphyra marcosii seaweeds, has been discovered and named in honor of former President Marcos.

Cordero said Japanese restaurants use Porphyra or gamet as the red-purplish, paper- thin wrapper of sushi, maki and other similar food preparations.

Mayor Esterlina Aguinaldo-Ramos said the resolution calls for the management of the 425- hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the province where gamet abounds.


Ramos said an area of 18.87 hectares was declared as “no take zone” to protect and conserve marine resources within the MPA zone to include the “black gold.”

“With this development, we are implementing conservation measures like ‘no scraping’ of gamet on the rocks where it grows so that it will sustainable and remain available in the area,” Ramos said.

During the recently held 6th Gamet Festival in partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Ramos rallied residents to observe proper conservation measures in gathering gamet.

Ramos said the very purpose for the yearly festival is “not only to promote its utilization but to teach the people how to value the resources.”

“We are so blessed to have this God-given resources which we consider the ‘black gold of the north’ because our people greatly benefit from it,” she said.

But Ramos said “there is still a great need to educate the gatherers not only in our town but in the neighboring coastal towns of Cagayan province and the Ilocos region.”

Also in his study, Cordero showed that farming of gamet in Northern Philippines is profitable and the market is available locally among restaurants and hotels serving Japanese, Korean and Chinese food.

He said gamet or Porphyra could even be a profitable commodity for export to the three seaweed- eating countries of Japan, Korea and China.

Meanwhile, BFAR region 2 director Jovita Ayson has invited experts in seaweeds to conduct lectures to the residents. She has also urged the World Fish organization to bring marine-related projects in the region.

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