Fish experts urge for the increased breeding of high-value fish
Fish experts from the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC), an office under the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), wants to radically increase production of high-value fish species.
Dr. Westly Rosario, NIFTDC chief, said that the time is now to modernize techniques in propagating high-value fish like the “pigek” as known in Mindanao (“bulidao” in Ilocano), which are expensive in the market due to its rarity and unique flavor.
Locals say the bulidao, scientific name “Mesopristescancellatus,” are so rare that they have to be pre-ordered. This means a fisherman’s catch for the day is already considered sold.
Prices for the fish is set at P700 per kilogram in the local in Ilocos Norte and can go up to P2,000 per kilogram once it reaches Metro Manila.
“The bulidao lives at ‘lingep’ or caves at the upstream of Abra River and during the typhoon season (July-September) they go along the fast and cold downstream of rainwater to the mouth of the River to spawn. It is only the time one can catch a bulidao,” Hatchery Technician Francisco Reyes Jr., a native of Ilocos Sur, says.
Rosario said this species is called “Catadronous.” “They live at the upstream of the river and swim downstream with the fast current during rainy season to spawn and eventually will swim back again upstream,” he said.
The NIFTDC recently acquired seven pieces of bulidao from along the Abra River system ins Santa and took them to the center alive.
Fish technicians had high hopes to study the species, only to encounter disappointment in the form of all fish sample dying within a few days.
“Keeping them alive for a few days was already a breakthrough,” said Rosario. “It is very hard to be able to bring them alive here at the center from Ilocos Sur. We haven’t been able to keep live species here. Actually, nobody has done it yet,” he said.
Rosario said that the fish couldn’t be contained in a “traditional or enclosed method.” So he suggests that a program on “aquaculture intervention on wild fisheries” should be properly to study to eventually propagate the bulidao.
“What is important is we learn how to reproduce this high-value fish species in enclosed condition, but must maintain its natural migration pattern, if it has to go upstream Abra River, then let’s make sure it can suitably do,” he said.