Eel sanctuaries in Cagayan identified

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TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: In a move to protect and harness fishermen’s livelihood, a London-based organization recently installed demarcation lines in various identified eel sanctuaries in the Cagayan Valley region.

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The regional Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) here said the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), through the Darwin Eel Project, have established two eel sanctuaries in Peñablanca, three in Baggao, and two in Gattaran in the province of Cagayan, while two were installed in Quirino province and three in the province of Isabela.

Launched in collaboration with Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in 2013, the project aims to tackle threats to freshwater eels (anguillid), protecting the freshwater environment and building the capacity of the communities who rely on eels as a source of livelihood.

BFAR said the sites were marked with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, which serve as demarcation lines for eel sanctuaries in partnership with local government units.

Alejandro Belen, ZSL Senior Biologist, said color-coded PVC pipe markers were installed in the sanctuary’s boundary, with orange PVC signifying “strict protection zone,” while blue means “sustainable-buffer zone.”

Belen said that in the strict protection zone, fishing is prohibited; however, fishing in the other zone is allowed, but with the use of selective gear and no fine mesh nets.

“The marker seeks to avoid conflict among the resident fisherfolk,” he said.

Dr. Matthew Gollock, ZSL representative, said that freshwater eels are under threat from pressures such as loss of habitat, fisheries pollution and climate change.

Eel commands a good price abroad. In 2010, a kilo of eel sold at $15,000 in the European market. It is being bought from fishermen for P27 a kilo, and when taken to Manila is sold at P45 per kilo.

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