The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) will launch the National Inland Fisheries Development Program or Project Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa (Project BASIL) with the release of 5-million fingerlings into Laguna Lake on Monday, June 19.
The Laguna Lake fingerlings seeding marks the week-long celebration of its 119th which will follow a brief flag raising ceremony in the DAF Central Office in Quezon City.
After the Quezon City ceremonies top DAF officials will motor to Los Baños, Laguna for the launching of Project BASIL which aims to seed the country’s lakes, rivers and creeks with an estimated 200-million fingerlings of indigenous and non-invasive fish species.
The national fish restocking called Project BASIL, a program of the DAF through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, was approved and accepted by stakeholders of Laguna de Bay during a consultation held last month in the BFAR office in Quezon City.
The consultative forum which I personally presided was attended by about 50 stakeholders representing different groups including officials of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), local government units, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), the Dept.of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development, scientists from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB), the National Agriculture and Fisheries Council (NAFC) and officers of the fisher folks group in Laguna de Bay.
LLDA General Manager Joey Medina headed a huge group of officials reprinting the government agency which manages the 90,000-hectare lake.
Four mayors were present during the consultation namely Cesar Perez of Los Baños, Popoy Rafanal of Pangil, Rolando Ubatay of Lumban and Armando San Juan of Morong, Rizal.
Other towns were represented by the municipal agriculturists.
Project BASIL is aimed at making food accessible to poor families living near the lakes, rivers and creeks as an initial step to address poverty.
It is also designed to ease up the pressure on the country’s coastal fishing grounds which have been over-fished because of the reduced catch from inland fishing grounds.
Laguna de Bay was selected as the launching area because of the order of Pres. Rody Duterte to dismantle the fish pens in the lake which deprived small fishermen the space to put up fish cages and freely fish in the lake.
Following the recommendations by the scientific community represented in the meeting yesterday, the fingerlings to be seeded in the lake would include the indigenous Ayungin, Biya, Kanduli and Guramei and non-invasive and commercially profitable species like Tilapia and Bangus.
Freshwater shrimps or “Ulang,” native catfish and mudfish will also be propagated for seeding in the lake.
The LLDA committed to address the violations of commercial establishments located around the lake which dispose their effluence or wastes into Laguna de Bay.
The local government units were tasked to monitor the continued dumping of wastes into the rivers flowing into the lake while fisher folk groups were tasked to undertake the clean up of the lake by picking up wastes and plastics floating in the lake.
Fisher folk families involved in the clean-up of the lake will receive incentives from the DA-BFAR, a program which is also aimed at providing them with sources of income during the period that the fish will not be ready for harvest.
The DA-BFAR also committed to provide at least 200 units of FB Pagbabago fiberglass fishing boats to the first group of fisher folks who will be engaged in the program.
The Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) will also include the fisher folk families in the Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) to provide them with initial working capital.
The local government units were also encouraged yesterday to establish mangrove areas and fish sanctuaries, including hatcheries for indigenous fish species to make the program sustainable and inclusive.
After the launching of Project BASIL in Laguna de Bay, the program will also be started in other lakes and rivers of the country.
(Photo attached to this post were downloaded from public websites.)