Eel fishery sustainability assessed in Northeastern Luzon

Eel is a commodity in demand, especially in Japanese restaurants where they serve ‘kabayaki,’ a grilled dish of ‘unagi’ or Japanese eel. In the Philippines, eel is referred to as ‘igat’ or ‘palos’ and is also an important food fish for many indigenous people of the Northern part of the country. Freshwater eels are abundant in Northern Luzon, Eastern Luzon, Central Philippines, and in Mindanao.

Anguillid eels migrate between marine and freshwater environments and exhibit a multi-stage life cycle. They spawn in the open ocean and afterwards drift with the oceanic currents towards their chosen habitat. The leaf-like larvae, leptocephalus, metamorphose into glass eels and further develop into elvers (juveniles). As they settle in their chosen habitat, they develop into yellow eels and silver eels.

To ensure the sustainability of eels in the river systems of the country, a project being implemented by the Cagayan State University (CSU) Aparri Campus studies the seasonality of eels in Northeastern Luzon. Titled, Species composition and seasonality of eels in the river systems of Northeastern Luzon, the project studied the eels’ multi-stage life cycle and where they successfully built their populations.

Policy makers, local government units, and glass eel gatherers will be able to benefit from the project as they will have a baseline information related to eel fishery in the country.

Moreover, since the project will be monitoring the different natural populations of freshwater eels in Northeastern Luzon, it will ensure the sustainability, conservation, and management of glass eel fishery.

The project is funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD).