Dr. Evelyn Ame, national focal person on Ludong, said the project amounting to P26 million was supported by Sen. Loren Legarda and Rep. Rodolfo Albano III and the plan will build on the initial accomplishments made by the bureau under the Oplan Sagip Ludong project, since its launching in 2010.
She said the project has three components, namely: Socio-cultural, Biological and Environmental Studies; Establishment of Breeding Facility and Breeding in Captivity; Sanctuary Establishment, Regulatory and Livelihood.
Under the first component, the bureau will conduct resource and socio-economic profiling, and assessment of fishing technologies along Ludong fishing communities; biophysical assessment of selected Ludong niches; larval survey of ludong; and taxonomic identification of Ludong and Ludong-like species.
Ame, also BFAR RO2 Training chief, said that the studies shall enable the bureau to have a more comprehensive information needed for the conservation of the species, as well as enable the agency to implement resource mobilization and livelihood opportunities to increase income of fisherfolk along Ludong areas.
Under the second component, the bureau will establish a Ludong facility in Claveria town for the artificial breeding of Ludong. This sub-activity will complement related initiatives being done by the Isabela State University in Roxas, Isabela.
Under the last component, BFAR will recommend to LGUs concerned the establishment of Ludong Sanctuaries. The bureau will also conduct fishery law enforcement training for river wardens. The wardens will be tasked to safeguard said sanctuaries and assist the agency in the enforcement of fishery regulations.
Ludong, also known as the President's Fish (Cestreaus sp.), is a rare and indigenous fish that thrives in the headwaters of Cagayan River and some river systems in Ilocos Region.
The fish is catadromous and makes its annual spawning run in time with the Ludong closed season fromOct. 1 to Nov. 15of each year. Known as the Philippines' most expensive food fish, its price has reached to almost P6,000 per kilo in recent years.
"With this funding, we are inching closer to our goal to close the life cycle of Ludong and thus, ensure its sustainability. We trust our researchers, scientists and collaborators to make this happen," Dr. Milagros C. Morales, BFAR RO2 regional director, said. (Max Prudencio, BFAR-Info Officer/ALM/MDCT/PIA-2)