Group calls solutions on knife fish ‘absurd’
A militant fisherfolk alliance has urged the government to take a more scientific action to stop the spread of knife fish in Laguna de Bay rather than come up with “absurd” suggestions.
“Collecting and harvesting knife fish eggs or introducing new predator species (soft-shelled turtles) will not stop the spread of the invasive species in the lake,” Fernando Hicap, chair of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), said in a statement Monday.
Hicap was referring to proposals of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Laguna to put soft-shelled turtles into the lake and of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for fishermen to destroy the knife fish eggs.
“We are asking for a decisive, scientific resolution from the BFAR, the DENR and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA),” he said.
The LLDA earlier said the knife fish might have made it into the the lake by escaping from fish farms or aquarium of hobbyists during the flood spawned by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009.
Although DENR-Laguna officer Isidro Mercado had said the turtles would not pose harm to species native to the lake since they do not eat fish, Pamalakaya said the presence of another alien species could tilt the balance of the lake’s biodiversity.
Instead, it suggested the opening of the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure to allow the entry of saltwater from Manila Bay through the Pasig River into the lake and correcting the ecological imbalance by cleansing the lake of toxins and alien marine species.
The proliferation of knife fish, a carnivorous fish species that feed on native fish, such as tilapia and “bangus” (milkfish) and their fingerlings, has caused alarm among fishermen and government agencies. Earlier, the LLDA reported that knife fish had comprised 20 to 30 percent of the fishermen’s usual catch.
Pamalakaya reported that the predator fish invasion had reduced total fish production in the lake by 70 to 90 percent.
It said it saw very little income opportunity in processing the knife fish into fish balls, a popular street food, as suggested by LLDA general manager Neric Acosta.
In Binangonan town in Rizal, for instance, a kilo of knife fish is sold for only P8 to P15, compared to the usual market price of milkfish of P80 to P100, the group said. Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon
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