* Residents say they requested for
it and are thankful

ORMOC CITY – Incoming barangay chairman
of Lake Danao Richard Impas does not see any-
thing wrong with the seeding of 20,000 Tilapia
fingerlings in the lake, saying this was not the
first time it was done and this was to beef up the
food supply of the earthquake affected village.

Impas, in an interview,
said that the seeding or “re-
stocking” of the lake with
Tilapia (St. Peter’s Fish)
was done on the request of
the residents, who noticed
that the Tilapia supply in
the lake has dwindled. “Sa
una, makakuha mi og tag
2-3 kilos, karon maayo gani
og naay usa,” he said.

Impas, who said he has
lived in Lake Danao for 12
years now, added Tilapia
has always been present
in the lake as far as he can
remember.

The incoming baran-
gay chairman was react-
ing to criticisms hurled by
netizens and Greenpeace
against Mayor Richard
Gomez for “boasting” of
seeding the lake with a
potentially invasive species.
He said that the restock-
ing was important because
if people had nothing to eat,
or had no catch, it will force
them again to go back into
slash-and-burn farming
which is more destructive
to the environment.

City agriculture officer
Elena Mendoza, on the
other hand, said the criti-
cism against Gomez was
unfair because Lake Danao
had been restocked with
Tilapia many times before,
even before his time as
mayor.
It was the first time,
however, that the activity
was posted on Facebook
as the mayor wants all his
activities documented for
transparency.

Mendoza said that Tila-
pia has already been present
in Lake Danao for around
40 years or in the 70’s. Sev-
eral seedings and restock-
ing had been done. Per
their record, some 10,000
fingerlings were released
into the lake in 2014, and
another 2,500 in 2016.

This year, aside from
the 20,000, ponds near the
earthquake relocation site
and “Matuguina’s site” got
5,000 fingerlings each.
Respected local musi-
cian/composer Manny Panta, on the other
hand, shared his observa-
tion that the Lake has had
tilapia for as long as he can
remember. He said that
Lake Danao was even re-
named Lake Imelda during
the Marcos years and tilapia
was seeded in the lake at
that time, to beef up the
food supply. He also recalls
other fish species like “eel”.
Historical data also
adds that Tilapia was intro-
duced in Philippine fresh-
waters in the 1950’s.

On the other hand, Ra-
fael Dumalan, a marine
biologist of the City Agri-
culture Office here, said that
a 2007 study recorded that
there were five species of
fish found in Lake Danao,
aside from Tilapia. Of the
five, only two are “native”
– kasili and bul-a. The three
others were introduced in
the country long before.

These are tilapia, Gourami
which is now an aquarium
fish introduced in 1938, and
the buntis-buntis or burod
introduced in 1905.
Quoting Dr. Rafael
Guerrero, an academician
of the National Academy
of Science and Technology,
these introduced species
either become beneficial
or invasive, and some po-
tentially invasive. “The
story of tilapia, on the other
hand, falls into to the ben-
eficial side, for food and
economic purposes… also
the buntis-buntis was re-
leased into frehswater to
control mosquito popula-
tion and mitigate diseases
associated with it.

Gourami,
on the other hand, became
a fancy aquarium species.”
As to netizens’ compar-
ing tilapia to the janitor fish
situation in Laguna de Bay,
Dumalan said that Tilapia’s
high value as food makes
their population easily con-
trolled by fishing pressure,
compared to janitor fish.
Dumalan, however,
said that identifying en-
demic or native species in
our waters is “quite vague”
as the city has no systematic
local fish assessment from
before. The 2007 study of
Lake Danao does not record
what species existed before,
if any. “We don’t have em-
pirical data,” he said.
He added that he hopes
“this issue would serve as
a wake -up call to revisit
the National Programs and
have a thorough review
on the remaining national
stock of endemic/native
species before any BASIL
(Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa)
Program should be put into
mainstream. Let’s prioritize
our own natural native
stock before the introduced
ones.

I’m not against Tilapia
farming or any program re-
lated to it but I hope it is ex-
ecuted and implemented in
a science-based approach,”
Dumalan added.

Barangay chairman-
elect Richard Impas shares
Dumalan’s view. Impas
said that he hopes Green-
peace and other concerned
environmental groups help
fund a study to come up
with baseline data on what
currently exists in the Lake
Danao ecosystem, before
jumping into conclusions.



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