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Introduced in Trinidad River, Mountain Province (Ref. 280). This species is popularly called yu-yu in Ifugao. It has become notably abundant after the Japanese occupation for which reason (probably) it has also come to be known as Japanese fish, panispis, or palispis in some places. Yu-yu has since become a major source of fish protein in the region, particularly in many areas beyond the reach of fresh fish from the coasts. This freshwater demersal species prefers muddy substrates, still waters, a subtropical climate (between 5 and 25°C) and seems to be omnivorous. It is no surprise therefore that this species has found an ideal home in the rice terraces of the Cordilleras and has been practically a care-free aquaculture species, well integrated with the organic-farming practices in the region over several decades. Also Ref. 1739, 12157, 119549.
Recently catches have declined to very low levels such that even local demands could not be met. The introduction of some freshwater species and some changes in farming practices are believed to have contributed much to the decline and seem to threaten the survival of this fish in the rice fields.
The demand for this organically-grown fish has increased not only in the region but also abroad. This fish is now being promoted in the region as a health food, being 70% protein, 20% calcium and practically no cholesterol, according to findings by the Bureau of Foods and Drug (BFAD).
In line with the One-Town-One-Product (OTOP) program of the Philippine government, the municipality of Hungduan has adopted yu-yu as its OTOP. The municipal government has alloted PhP 300,000.00 annually for the improvement of yu-yu production for the local market and abroad. The Ifugao provincial government also supports this OTOP and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is involved in the development of aquaculture technology for yu-yu.
Traditionally, the rice terraces in Ifugao are open access in terms of fish, shell fish and other non-crop farm products. Now the municipality of Hungduan limits fishing access to individual owners of the rice fields as a way of helping owners manage their own yu-yu resource. Likewise, the municipality has banned the use of vine extracts (rotenone and the like) for catching yu-yu as this method kills young fish as well and could be a health risk to humans.
Beyond meeting current market demands, the improvement of yu-yu production in the rice terraces is seen on the long-term as an incentive to farmers to maintain the rice terraces as a cultural heritage and to keep their organic farming practices. It is also hoped that this would help prevent the out migration of more farmers from the region in search of more profitable farming opportunities in the lowlands. (CB).
Collected from Antadas Ricefields, Sagada, Mountain Province as specimen for living fish museum (Ref. 81820).