The Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) renewed its membership to the Technical Working Group (TWG) on the Containment of Knifefish in Laguna de Bay in a ceremonial memorandum of agreement signing held at the National Ecology Center, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) in Diliman, Quezon City on December 6, 2016. The activity was part of the Partnership Forum organized by the Laguna Lake Development Authority to enlist commitment from stakeholder groups to implement measures for controlling the population of knifefish, an invasive species in Laguna de Bay.
Dr. Nereus Acosta, LLDA General Manager, in his keynote address, highlighted the need for continuing partnership among the inter-agency TWG, the Local Government Units (LGU) of Rizal and Laguna, and other stakeholders for the management of the lake, without adversely affecting food security.
During the forum, Moses Abadilla, project staff of the DOST-PCAARRD-funded R&D Program for the Control and Management of the Invasive Knifefish in Laguna de Bay, discussed the results of tagging studies to track the movement of knifefish in the lake. Tagged knifefish juveniles were released in Talim Island and monitored for distance travelled from the release site. Results of the ongoing study will be used to help identify “hotspots” where knifefish are located.
Knifefish is considered a nuisance species in Laguna de Bay because of its voracious feeding habit which includes prey that are of economic importance. The Knifefish R&D Program aims to provide scientific information on the life history, reproductive and spawning behavior, feeding ecology, movement and other information on knifefish that will help identify the vulnerability of the species, and develop effective management and control strategies.
Dr. Adelaida Palma of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) gave an update on the stock assessment of knifefish. She reported that the catch of knifefish, which used to comprise 40% of the total catch in the lake, has gone down to 27%. She also discussed the guidelines for the implementation of the BFAR-LLDA Joint Memorandum Circular 2016-01 or “Guidelines for the exemption on the use of electricity to eradicate knifefish eggs and fry in Laguna de Bay.”
Aside from DOST-PCAARRD, other members of the TWG on the Containment of Knifefish in Lagune de Bay are BFAR, LLDA, CALABARZON Regional Offices of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils of Rizal and Laguna.
Several measures, such as physical removal, development of gadgets for eradication, and development of uses (e.g., food products, fertilizer) are being implemented by the TWG member-agencies to control the knifefish population in Laguna de Bay.
Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, DOST-PCAARRD Acting Executive Director was represented by Dr. Loureeda Darvin of the Inland Aquatic Resources Research Division-PCAARRD during the ceremonial MOA signing.