ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal, Feb. 11 (PIA) — The Bureau of Fishery and Aquatic Resources – National Inland Fisheries Technology Center (BFAR-NIFTC) and concerned local governments are currently undertaking mass retrieval operations to address Laguna Lake’s knife fish population that endangers the local ecosystem and aquaculture.
The agency has conducted fishery surveys and collaborated with the Laguna Lake Development Authority and LGUs to gather data on the fishermen directly affected by the knife fish infestation said Dr. Adelaida Palma of BFAR.
LLDA and LGU data identified 5,768 affected fishers in the lake while four municipalities in Rizal (Angono, Binangonan, Cardona, and Pililia) , two cities in NCR, and 12 municipalities and a city in Laguna are also affected by the infestation.
The fisheries survey done by the bureau covers 2,519 fishermen or 43.67 percent of the affected fishermen.
Dr. Palma added that 40.34 percent of fishers catch are knife fish resulting to a total catch of 3,151.45 kilograms per day using the eight major fishing gears (gill net, long line, fish corral, fish shelter/manual seine, fyke net, fish trap, motorized drive-in net and motorized push net).
Knife fish originated from swamps, lakes, and rivers of South America and South East Asia and were introduced to the country as an ornamental fish. However, some knife fish escaped to Laguna Bay due to the floods in the lake’s coastal towns.
The fish was considered an invasive species due to its aggressive nature and tendency to eat fish eggs and smaller fish, mostly fingerlings of cultured tilapia or carp, thus endangering the local fish industry.
Aside from mass retrieval, BFAR also considered other methods of eliminating the invasive species in the lake such as salinity. However, the bureau quickly ruled it out after the results of salinity tolerance tests conducted on knife fish showed the indigenous species and aquaculture may also be affected by the high salt levels which can kill knife fish.
BFAR already coordinated with the affected LGUs and Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Council in the massive collection and retrieval of the invasive species.
The collected knife fish will then be turned over to BFAR for the development of technologies for its economic utilization.
“BFAR is also currently focusing on value-added products development from knife fish such as fishballs processing and feeds for other carnivorous fish so that we will be able to find more uses for it,” said Dr. Palma. (GG-PIA4A)