On Jose Rizal's birthday


By Manny Piñol

The National Inland Fisheries Development Program, or Project BASIL for Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa, was launched in Los Baños, Laguna with the seeding of 5-million fingerlings of different fish species and freshwater shrimps in Laguna de Bay yesterday, June 19.

The ceremonial seeding was attended by Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, and attended by officials of the Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), local officials and fishermen's groups.

Two hundred fiberglass fishing boats and an initial loan amount of P25-M also marked the launching of the program which seeks to seed the country's lakes, rivers and creeks with 210-million fingerlings by the end of the term of President Rody Duterte in 2022.

Also released yesterday were checks to support the campaign against the predatory Knifefish which was released by fish enthusiasts ingot he Marikina River years back and now considered by fishermen as a pest which preys on fingerlings.

Each local government unit involved in the campaign against the Knifefish was given a P200,000 check which will be given as incentives to fishermen to catch the predatory fish.

Fishermen from as far as Quezon and Cavite also attended the activity yesterday to receive the patrol boats, crab traps and fishing nets from the BFAR yesterday.

Project BASIL, which I personally conceptualised to address the depleted and overfished inland fishing areas, was designed by scientist Adelaida Palma of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) who retired from government service yesterday but who was rehired as consultant of BFAR.

From Laguna de Bay, the fingerlings dispersal program will be undertaken in other lakes all over the country including Lake Lanao, Lake Naujan, Lake Mainit, Taal Lake, Lake Sebu and Buluan Lake.

Rivers and creeks all over the country will also be seeded with indigenous fish species and non-invasive species.

Elvers and freshwater shrimps or "ulang" will also be seeded in the rivers and creeks.

The launching of Project BASIL came after consultations with local government units who were tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that illegal fishing methods like "electric fishing" and the use of poison like cyanide.

The country's lakes, rivers and creeks teemed with freshwater fish species, eels, crab lets and shrimps until "electric fishing" became a fad and almost totally decimated freshwater fish species in recent years.

Project BASIL is also expected to ease up the pressure on the country's coastal fishing grounds which have largely been depleted because of overfishing.

By the end of the term of President Duterte, the lakes, rivers and creeks of the country are expected to be brought back to life and ordinary people could provide for their daily fish needs by just bring hooks and nets to the nearby freshwater fishing grounds.

#Changeishere! #DuterteDelivers! #PresRodyCares!
#FishBeWithYou! #AvailableAffordableFood!

(Photos of the launching of Project BASIL in Laguna taken by Allan Jay Jacalan, DA-AFID.