Various government agencies are set to initiate action to save Ludong (Cestreus plicatilis), a rapidly dwindling species of mullet, following orders issued by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala during his recent visit here.
In a report to Sec.Alcala, Dr. Jovita Ayson, regional director of the DA's Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the DA-BFAR will implement "Oplan Sagip Ludong," a threepronged approach anchored on research, conservation and protection, and intensified information and education campaign, as measures to stem the disappearance of the rare fish species.
"We shall conduct research on breeding in captivity and population genetics, as soon as we can have live samples of ludong in time with its spawning run this October," Dir. Ayason said.
The agency has also submitted proposal for the amendment of Fisheries Administrative Order 31, a 1952 law banning the catching and selling of ludong. "We have stipulated a penalty of P80,000 compared to 200 pesos in the old FAO," Ayson said.
Ludong is a rare and indigenous fish that thrives in the headwaters of the 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.
Its suspected habitats in Cagayan Valley are in the Upper Pinakaanan River in the towns of Jones, San Agustin and San Mariano in the province of Isabela, Addalem River in Aglipay, Quirino and Dasimpit rapids also in Jones. The fish migrates yearly towards the mouth of the Cagayan River in Aparri town to spawn.
Known as the Philippines' most expensive food fish, its price is increasing annually and has reached P4,000.00 to P5,000.00 per kilo last year.