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Cagayan River's delectable ludong fish on the brink of extinction

January 1, 2010 6:14pm

Tags: Cagayan
A rare species of fish in the Philippines that sells for P5,000 a kilo is facing rougher waters as poachers continue to threaten its population.

The lobed river mullet or Ludong, endemic to the Cagayan Valley region, is a treasured fish believed to be an annual gift of the river goddess to the Ibanags or to the people living by the Cagayan River .

Ludong or lobed river mullet (Cestraeus plicatilis) Source: www.fishbase.org


Dwindling numbers and sizes

Through the years, however, the population of the ludong, or Cestraeus plicatilis, has declined due to unprecedented poaching, making the fish more elusive and expensive. According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), no ludong had been caught in 2002 and 2003.

BFAR also reported that the fish’s size has become smaller, from 2.4 kilograms in 1998 to a quarter of a kilo in 2001.

Ludong fishing is banned in Cagayan. The months of December, January, and February are especially crucial as ludong are expected to migrate upstream after spawning, bringing with them fry that can still propagate its entire population if not caught indiscriminately.

This freshwater fish is catadromous, which means that it migrates to the ocean to breed from October to December and returns to the rivers upstream in the months of December to February.

Endemic to Cagayan Valley

The Cagayan Valley region, the only known habitat of the ludong in the world, nurtures one of the country’s most diverse collections of flora and fauna like the bleeding-heart pigeon and the Philippine eagle. The Cagayan River passes through the Sierra Madre and Cordillera mountain ranges, few of the remaining primary forests of the country.

According to the BFAR, this fish is habituating in the deep pools of Addalem River in Aglipay, Quirino, and rapids of Didimpit in Lacab, Jones, Isabela.

Ludong spawns in the upper Cagayan River in Jones, Isabela and goes downstream in late October until mid-November to release eggs at the mouth of the Cagayan River , the nation’s longest river.
- NC/TJD/HGS, GMANews.TV
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Tags: Cagayan