DOST and PCAARRD jointly kick off NICER Program at Isabela State University

The Isabela State University (ISU) became the first Niche Center in the Region (NICER) for fisheries with a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) grant of P18 M for the program, “Establishment of Freshwater Fisheries Center for Cagayan Valley.” The program kicked off with an inception meeting conducted jointly by staff members from ISU, DOST, and the DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) at the ISU Campus, Echague, Isabela recently.


The NICER Program aims to capacitate Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in undertaking quality research that will contribute to regional development through upgrading of S&T infrastructure. The establishment of a Freshwater Fisheries Center at ISU will strengthen its capability to provide the fish requirement and conserve important endemic and freshwater resources in the Cagayan Valley Region. 

During the inception meeting, the PCAARRD team, composed of Dr. Dalisay DG. Fernandez, Dr. Juanito Batalon, Dr. Norida P, Samson, Eng. Ruel Tanqueco and Mr. Wilfredo C. Ibarra briefed the program implementers on the guidelines for the technical and financial management of the program. A big portion of the financial grant will be used to purchase laboratory and training equipment.

The Project leader, Dr. Isagani Angeles, Jr discussed the plans and activities for the two R&D component projects. The first project focuses on artificial spawning of the river mullet (Cestraeus plicatilis), an endemic species known locally as “ludong”. The breeding in captivity of this species is being eyed as a key strategy to help repopulate and restore its dwindling population along Cagayan River.

On the other hand, the second project aims to improve the survival of freshwater eel during culture through the use of immunostimulants. Like “ludong”, eel is a migratory species, which is highly sought after in the export market. This high demand threatens the population of elvers or young eels, of which Cagayan River is a major source.

ISU is working in collaboration with the Bureau of Fisheries Regional Office II through Dr. Evelyn Ame to restore the “ludong” and freshwater eel in the river systems of Cagayan.  In supporting this initiative, PCAARRD funded a benchmarking mission in November 2017 to observe the management of the eel fishery in Taiwan, which, along with the Philippines is part of the migratory route of eels. 

The PCAARRD team also visited the ISU Roxas Campus where they were joined by staff members from Cagayan State University who will work with ISU on a project for the assessment and management of the eel fishery in Cagayan River.