“Dredging will not affect aramang catches”
APARRI, Cagayan: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) has confirmed the decrease in catches of “aramang” (soft-shelled pink shrimp) in the coastal town of Aparri in Cagayan province. over the past seven years, but clarified that it is not related to river dredging activities.
Regional Director Angel Encarnacion of BFAR Region 2 under the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the result of their assessment was submitted to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) here. The MGB is investigating black sand mining which may have caused the decline in fish catches.
MGB Region 2 Director Mario Ancheta said the office needs scientific data or statements on the level of capture and harvesting of aquatic resources in Aparri, particularly that of aramang in its investigation of the claims from fishermen that black sand mining directly affects them.
He said fishermen had confused the government’s dredging project to restore the Cagayan River with that of black sand mining and ongoing dredging activities.
The heavily silted Cagayan River, which runs through Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Isabela and the Cagayan Valley, which is the longest and largest river in the country, has caused massive flooding, especially during heavy rains.
Encarnacion said the assessment carried out by the DA-BFAR Region 2 and the DA-National Institute for Fisheries Development and Research confirmed the decline in aramang catches from 2014 to 2020.
He noted that, based on the DA-BFAR Region 2 national stock assessment program, a decreasing trend in landed catch and catch per unit effort (CPUE) of aramang was observed. from 2015 to today.
However, Encarnacion said the decrease from 2020 could also be attributed to the limited movement of fishermen due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fisheries, CPUE is often the most useful index for long-term monitoring of a fishery. A drop in CPUE may mean that the fish population cannot support the level of harvest, while an increase in CPUE may mean that a fish stock is recovering and increased fishing effort can be applied .
Encarnacion said the decrease in catches and CPUE could be attributed to several factors in the environment.
He said these include a sudden change in weather conditions during a fishing operation which affects the fishing trips or efforts of fishers and the number of hours spent when they were already at sea or prevents them from leave the port.
“Increased boat landings have also contributed to the decrease in CPUE over time. Notably, the greater the number of active fishing vessels, the lower the volume of catch per boat since the resource has been shared by many fishermen,” Encarnacion said.
According to the BFAR 2 region record, 33 boat landings were observed in 2015 with the highest CPUE, and 236 boats landed in 2019 with the lower CPUE.
Another factor contributing to the decrease in CPUE could also be the catchability of the gear used.
Encarnacion noted that commercial drift net (DFN) as well as pair trawl or active gears were used to catch aramang from 2014 to 2016.
He said the conversion from commercial DFN to municipal DFN from larger boats to smaller boats has also affected aramang catches and CPUE.
He said rising fuel prices could also affect fishermen’s catches and CPUE.