The Department of Agriculture has unveiled a plan to restock Laguna and other lakes, rivers and creeks in the country with indigenous fish and non-invasive but commercially viable species.
The initiative tagged as Project BASIL (Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa) aims to revive inland bodies of water where decline of fish stocks has been observed.
Project BASIL, also known as the National Inland Fisheries Enhancement Program, is an ambitious five-year plan that covers 13 major lakes and river systems across the country. Rehabilitation will be done through clean up, enhancement of indigenous stocks, and seeding of non-invasive, commercially viable fish species in the inland waters. It is also intended to help achieve food security and address poverty in fishing communities by inducing the natural productivity of the water bodies.
The initiative is anchored at four components. It will start with lake profiling to determine baselines that will help set success indicators for the project. It will be followed by social preparation to build the capacity of the community in rehabilitating, protecting and managing the lake.
The third step will be the rehabilitation stage where the inland waters will be repopulated with both indigenous fish species and other major fish commodities. The final component involves lake management when monitoring, evaluation and control will take place. Passage of necessary ordinances may also be recommended to further conserve and develop the bodies of water.
The Laguna Lake plays an important role in Philippine fisheries production and in meeting about 36% of Mega Manila’s food fish requirement.
The DA-BFAR will be restocking the lake with indigenous species including biya, ulang, and ayungin. Ayungin is endemic in Laguna Lake and is traditionally the fish harvested by the fisherfolk of Laguna.
The population of ayungin and other native species has dwindled over the years due to overfishing, and invasion of alien fish species such as janitor fish and knifefish on the lake.
The government will also seed the lake with bangus and tilapia with an initial seeding by June. The initiative will be sustained with quarterly seeding.
Local chief executives from Laguna, meanwhile, are worried about the runoffs coming from agricultural areas. They also asked support for an intensive debris clean-up that will include inland rivers that flow into Laguna Lake.
To tackle the problem on water quality and solid wastes, the DA will distribute fiberglass boats among Laguna fishers and commission them to retrieve debris from the lake. He instructed BFAR to develop a cash-for-work scheme that will compensate the fisherfolk for collecting garbage. He also appealed to LGU officials to ensure proper waste management and clean up polluted rivers. (from BFAR release)
The department has yet to release more info on other fresh water lakes and rivers around the country under the same program.