By Gerry Albert Corpuz and Trinity Biglang Awa
Manila, Philippines- The predator Janitor Fish in Laguna Lake is now replaced by another alien predator which is more deadly—the knife fish.
Spreading like mushrooms and growing fast like flesh eating monsters in those regular B-ham Hollywood science thriller movies, lake based groups Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) and Anakpawis party list-Laguna Lake chapter last week staged a 16-boat fluvial protest to call the attention of Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) general manager Neric Acosta to investigate what they call “invasion of the predators”.
“Something fishy is going on. It seems to us sinister interest group is behind the proliferation of knife fish in Laguna Lake. The cruel intention is clear—get rid of all fish species in the lake and compel fishermen and other aquaculture producers to leave their livelihood,” said Pamalakaya chairperson and Anakpawis vice-chairman Fernando Hicap in a press statement.
According to Hicap, the janitor fish is recently overtaken by carnivorous aquarium specie known as knife fish. The Pamalakaya official said the fry of knife fish is very small that enables them to penetrate fish cages and fishpens, grow inside these fish culture farms and eat stocks inside the pens and cages like big head, tilapia and bangus. Some sectors said the proliferation could have been done by knife fish hobbyists who are ignorant of the impact on the environment, released them into waterways when the fish got too big for aquariums.
Hicap said even fish species outside fish cages and fish pens are being eaten by the new breed of predator in the 90,000 hectare lake. “Secretary Acosta should mobilize all state resources to investigate the proliferation of knife fish and stop this new breed of monster from destroying the livelihood of both fish capture and fish culture producers,” he said.
SLLM convener Salvador France said knife fish has become a regular catch among lake fishermen over the last six months. He said for every 10 kilos of fish, 7 kilos are knife fish known to them as arowana fish, because they resemble the same feature. “The horrible looking knife fish has very low value in the market.
Although there are buyers, they buy this fish for P 5 to P 15 per kilo. Not many people are keen to eat this fish because it is carnivorous, exotic and not part of the regular fish staple. The buyers use knife fish for fish ball, that is why it is also very cheap,” France added.
The SLMM organizer said the LLDA admitted it is helpless in stopping the knife fish from multiplying in tens of thousands at a mile rate compared to indigenous fish species like big head carpa, ayungin, tilapia and milkfish. The LLDA told fishermen in the area to just collect knife fish and sell it to the public since there are buyers and could be a source of alternative income for small-fishermen.
The SLLM noted 70 percent to 90 percent of fries inside fishpens or fish cages are eaten by the predator knife fish. The group said one of the fishpen operators told them that he invested 45,000 pieces of bangus fries which is supposed to deliver 90,000 kilos upon harvest season, but what he gained was merely 3,250 pieces of bangus. @