LAGAWE, Ifugao – Extreme heat is killing fish in the province.
Provincial Agriculturist Avelino Lunag Jr. said heat in the province has affected 200 hectares of commercial fishponds in lowland areas of the province where fish are known to thrive.
Lunag said the areas of Lagawe, Lamut, Alfonso Lista, Aguinaldo and Mayaoyao are 100 percent affected by the fishkill signifying a 40 percent loss to date.
"This is the first time we had a fishkill here," he reported.
Lunag said the extreme heat has penetrated the fishponds, leading to the death of fully-grown and fingerling fishes and losses to farmers.
Ifugao is Cordillera's number one producer of fish, specifically, tilapia, which are propagated in various fishponds across the province.
Among the major economic sectors, the primary sector, particularly agriculture, fisheries and livestock absorbed 70 percent of the total employed persons.
Lunag said temperature in the province capital is known to soar to a high of 39 degrees.
"But Cagayan is nearby and the area is known to hit 42 degrees, we may have hit that already," he surmised.
Lunag said the fishkill is due to lack of oxygen in the fishpond and organic matter in the water composition, which produces carbon.
Provincial agriculture records show fishery is a very significant economic activity in Ifugao due to the presence of, and access by the local population to several fishing grounds like rivers, lakes, reservoirs, freshwater fishponds, fish cages and fish pens. Practically all municipalities are traversed by rivers, creeks, streams and brooks.
In 2009, data reported a total area of about 192.54 hectares of fish ponds and 27.48 hectares of fish cages, 70 percent of which are located in Aguinaldo and Alfonso Lista while the remaining 30 percent is in Lamut.
In the four-year period (2006-2009), Ifugao consistently increased its fish production volume to 2,286.90 metric tons in 2009 from 2,043.40 metric tons in 2006 and managed to grow by 3.82 percent annually.
There are 235 fish cage operators in Aguinaldo and Alfonso Lista while 1,280 fish pond operators in Lamut. A total of 233 fishing boats were used in fishing activities. More than three fourth (85.41 percent) of this number are non-motorized while the rest are motorized. The highest number of both motorized and non-motorized fishing boats came from barangay Halag of Aguinaldo.
The fishkill has been plaguing the province since May.
Lunag said in a square meter there are three fishes, which thrive explaining the 200 hectares affect immesurable farms with fingeling and fully-grown fishes.
The provincial agriculturist said technicians are now crafting remedies to the phenomenon with experts adding anti biotics to the feeds given to fish and turning to aeration technology to spur oxygenation in ponds.
There are 1,280 fishpond operators in the province, farmgate prices of Tilapia is pegged at P80 to P85 per kilo with five to six pieces of fish in a kilo.
Tilapia in the province is being made into an array of products by smoking, drying, pickling and various processed frozen food variations.