By Max Prudencio
TUGUEGARAO CITY --- Technical experts from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and other concerned agencies met here Monday to formulate a plan to develop the country’s eel industry.
National Eel Focal Person, Dr. Evelyn Ame, concurrent chief of the Training Division of BFAR’s office in Cagayan Valley, said the proposed interventions focused on the sustainable use and conservation of eel resources.
Ame said that Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol had committed a P20M fund for the development of the eel industry.
The plan focuses on the development of studies on culture of eel (Anguilla spp.), nursery grow-out, feed formulation and farming systems, as well as the formation of fisher folk associations or cooperatives to enable eel fishers to have better leverage on the market.
Resource conservation, on the other hand, focuses on strict implementation of regulatory measures including traceability, eel research, and the establishment of management measures, alongside advocacy campaign.
The group also called for the formulation and implementation of Eel Management Plan, in all involved regions as well as for the entire country.
In mid-2012 to 2013, there was a massive spike in demand for elvers (young eel) in the global market, leading to a huge increase in its buying price which went as high as P45,000 per kilogram.
However, the high buying price led to unabated gathering, prompting the government to issue Fisheries Administrative Order 242 prescribing a size limit of 15 cm total length for elvers set for export.
Ame said the eel development plan would enable industry players to tap into this huge export potential without compromising sustainability of the resources.
The fisheries expert added that implementation of sub-activities under the plan will start this year.
The meeting was attended by officials from the BFAR Central Office and Regional Offices, BFAR – NFRDI, The Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center of Thailand, and a non-governmental organization. PNA