Did you know that the best tasting and most expensive fish can be found in the Philippines?
Locally known as banak or ludong (Cestraeus plicatilis), it is also dubbed as the “President’s fish”, alluding to its rarity and high-priced value, which is as much as Php 5,000 a kilo.
It is due to its rarity that the Philippine government through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) bans the catching of ludong until November 15 to conserve and allow it to multiply during its spawning season.
The fish ban covers some areas such as Cagayan River including its tributaries, headwaters and watersheds; and Abra River and its tributaries extending to Santa River in Ilocos Sur and Cordillera.
BFAR head Asis Perez said in a radio interview the closed season aims to increase the population of the fish “and lessen its high price.”
Earlier, a news release from the BFAR Region II stated that affected fishermen will be given alternative livelihood.
As for its monitoring efforts, the BFAR and the Philippine Coast Guard deployed eight multi-mission boats to monitor and patrol the area.
Violators of the closed season, according to BFAR, may face imprisonment of six months to one year and/or a fine of P6,000 and forfeiture of catch and fishing gadgets.
Furthermore, if the offense involves catching of spawning ludong during the closed season, a penalty of six months and one day to eight years imprisonment and/or fine of P80,000 shall be imposed.
Exporters of spawning ludong, on the other hand, will be penalized with eight years imprisonment, confiscation of catch and a fine equivalent to double the value of the fish.
The government is set to launch massive education campaign to heighten public awareness and prevent violations among those concerned.
Ludong, which resembles milkfish or bangus, is close to being an endangered species.
According to information gathered from fish vendors in Cagayan, the volume of ludong catch has been tremendously decreasing annually.