Govt eyes roadmap for PH eel industry

The government is looking at formulating an eel commodity roadmap to take advantage of the rising global demand for eels, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Tuesday.

“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,” said Alcala.

“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 said.

Alcala cited data showing the combined export volume of true and paddy eels reached 5,142.7 metric tons with an equivalent value of $34.87 million last year.

Japan, South Korea and China are the highest importers of eels where they are considered delicacies and a good source of strength.

Alcala said, however, most eel catch were taken from the wild, which prompted the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to promote eel culture in the country.

He said BFAR was tasked to promote sound and sustainable aquaculture and capture fishery practices.

BFAR director Asis Perez said aside from the formulation of the eel commodity roadmap, the government also aimed to ensure that Fisheries Administrative Order 242 s. 2012, which reinstated the ban on the export of elvers or eel fry would be implemented.

“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,” Perez said.

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