The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) held its first ever National Eel Forum recently on February 24, 2015, at the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in Quezon City.
With the purpose of strengthening the country’s position in the global eel aquaculture in order to respond to the growing demands for eels in the global market, BFAR invited fishery stakeholders and the academe to participate in the event.
“Eels, or igat as they are more known locally, have huge market potential in the global scene. This is an opportunity that entrepreneurs in the country must look into and take advantage of,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said. The Philippines is one of the few areas in the world where high-value species of eels such as Anguillids (true eels) and Monopterus (paddy eels) thrive—a reason that puts the country at an even better position of becoming a major producer of eel, he added.
In 2014, the combined export volume of true and paddy eels reached 5,142.7 metric tons with an equivalent value of 34.87 million US dollars. Japan, South Korea and China are the highest importers of eels where they are perceived as delicacies and a good source of strength.
Most of the eel catch, however, were taken from the wild, Alcala said. This prompted the BFAR to promote eel culture in the country. He, however, said that the BFAR will be promoting sound and sustainable aquaculture and capture fishery practices only.
Among other things that were discussed in the forum, BFAR director Asis G. Perez said, is the formulation of an Eel Commodity Road Map to ensure effective eel development plan, and updates on Fisheries Administrative Order 242 s. 2012, which “reinstates the ban on the export of elvers or eel fry.”
“For the last three years, we have been seriously upholding FAO 242 in order to protect eel population from dropping further. We want to ensure that these elvers reach maturity in order to spawn and produce more eels,” he said.
Perez said the ban will encourage local eel culture industry, secure the local fisherfolk a lucrative livelihood and, promote the protection of eel aquatic habitats. # # # (BFAR Information and Public Relations Group)