Tuguegarao City, Cagayan – The fisheries bureau in Region 02 is set to enforce BFAR Administrative Circular No. 247, a fishery regulation establishing a closed season on the catching of Ludong (Cestraeus sp.), a highly priced fish and a cultural icon of Cagayanos, effective October to November 15 of each year.

By Max Prudencio, BFAR RO2

A closed season is ‘a period during which the taking of specified fishery species is prohibited in a specified area in Philippine waters’.

Areas covered by the regulation include the entire stretch of the Cagayan River, including its tributaries, headwaters, and watersheds. It also encompasses the Abra River and its tributaries traversing Ilocos Sur (Santa River) and the Cordillera Region.

BAC No. 247 states that ‘it shall be unlawful for any person, association, or corporation to catch or cause to be caught, using any type of gear or fishing method, purchase, sell or expose for sale, transport, export or have in possession, fish known as Ludong, its by-products or derivatives, during the closed season as defined’.

The regulation provides for a penalty of imprisonment of 6 months to 1 year and/or a fine of six thousand pesos and forfeiture of catch and fishing gadgets. However, a stiffer penalty of 6 months and 1 day to 8 years imprisonment and/or a fine of eighty thousand pesos shall be imposed if the offense involves the catching of spawning Ludong during the closed season.

Export of spawning Ludong also carries a penalty of 8 years imprisonment, confiscation of the same, and a fine equivalent to double the value of the same. During the meeting held last Sept. 5, 2014, BFAR RO2 Regional Director Dr. Jovita P. Ayson disclosed that the Bureau will deploy its fishery law enforcement officers, whose ranks will be beefed up by personnel from the Central Office, to implement the regulation during the said period. Ayson also said that the Bureau will also seek the assistance of the LGU and other law enforcement agencies on the matter.

An intensified IEC (information, education, and communication) campaign at all levels utilizing various forms of media, will also be held effective this month up to the end of the regulation period.

Ayson also said that BFAR Director Asis G. Perez will spearhead a launching activity for the implementation of BAC No. 247 on October 1. All mayors, chiefs of police, other concerned officials, and fisherfolk from all affected municipalities, provincial officials, Central Office officials and personnel, and agency heads will be invited to the activity.

The promulgation of BAC No. 247 is one of the highlights of the Oplan Sagip Ludong, an inter-agency project spearheaded by BFAR RO2. The OSL, launched by Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala in 2010, aims to bring back the abundance of Ludong.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s October 2014 issue.