Solon asks LLDA, BFAR to probe knife fish infestation in Laguna Lake

ANAKPAWIS Rep. Rafael V. Mariano today demanded the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to thoroughly probe the knife fish infestation in Laguna Bay that is causing damaging effects on the livelihood of small fisher folks and small and medium fishing entrepreneurs.

“The LLDA and BFAR must stop making excuses for their non-action on the growing problem of knife fish proliferation in Laguna Lake. The government must act decisively and concretely to stop the invasion of this ‘predator alien fish’ that feeds on local fish species, severely affecting the livelihood of local fisher folks,” said Mariano.

The alarming proliferation of knife fish adds to the usual problem of fish kill, pollution and poverty in Laguna Lake.

“The knife fish is swiftly killing the livelihood of small fisher folks who rely on the lake for their daily food consumption and income,” said Mariano.

Contrary to the claim of LLDA chairman Neric Acosta, fisher folks see very little or no opportunity at all in the proliferation of knife fish in Laguna Lake. Small fisher folks consider the knife fish as ‘pests in the lake’ as it feeds on fry and fingerlings of more common fish species like milk fish (bangus), tilapia, big head carp, silver perch fish (ayungin) and catfish (kanduli).

Small fisher folks in Binangonan, Rizal are complaining that knife fish now comprises a significant portion of their daily catch. A kilo of knife fish sells only for P8 to P15 compared to milkfish that sells P80 to P100 per kilo. The knife fish are sold to local fish ball and fish cracker manufacturers. “Even locals do not eat the knife fish,” said Mariano.

Small fish pen and fish cage operators are also bearing the brunt of dwindling fish harvest in Laguna Lake. Since 2010, fish harvest drastically reduced from 200 tons to 50 to 75 tons of native fish.

Mariano said the government must urgently consider opening the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure to allow sea water to flow into the Laguna Lake. “Opening the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure can cure the ecological cycle of Laguna Lake and rid it of pollutants including invasive fish species.”

Knife fish, (chitala or clown knife fish) an alien fish specie common in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos started proliferating in Laguna Lake two years ago. As to how the knife fish reached the local waters remains a mystery. Laguna Lake is the largest source of fresh water fish for consumers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The solon said he will file a resolution urging Congress to investigate the proliferation and effects of knife fish on the livelihood of small fisher folks and the local fishing industry.

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