DAVAO CITY – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said it is looking into crafting of a comprehensive program that would ensure the sustainability of "Pijanga" fishing in Lake Mainit, which borders Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Sur provinces.

In a statement Monday, MinDA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the plan is to strengthen the alliance of the lake-side towns so that environmental programs could be crafted to ensure a sustainable livelihood for families who depend on the lake.

Under the Mindanao Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MINFAD) Program of MinDA, he said, the existing "Pijanga" hatchery will be improved to ensure the availability of fingerlings to be seeded in the lake every year.

"The establishment of post-harvest facilities for the "Pijanga" will also be included in the proposed program for Lake Mainit to enable fishermen to get a higher value for their produce,” Piñol added.

Lake Mainit, one of Mindanao's major inland body of water at 17,430-hectares, teems with "Pijanga," which has provided a livelihood for poor fishing families living along the 64-kilometer coastal line of the country's fourth-largest lake.

"Pijanga," which belongs to the white goby family, is the dominant fish species in the lake.

Fishermen in the towns of Jabonga and Kitcharao in Agusan del Norte and Alegria and Mainit in Surigao del Norte have been fishing "Pijanga" from the lake, along with the occasional catch of "Bingaw," a red fish that swims up to Lake Mainit from the sea.

However, Piñol acknowledged the "concerns about the sustainability of the "Pijanga" raised by several sectors because of overfishing.

Agusan del Norte Gov. Dale Corvera and Jabonga town Mayor Napoleon Montero said the fish breeds whole year-round.

Corvera, according to the MinDA chief, said that for as long as illegal fishing practices are checked, such as the use of fine mesh nets which catch the young "Pijanga" called "Saguyon," there will always be a fish to catch from the Lake.

Dried "Pijanga" has become a popular product of the towns surrounding the Lake, making it the iconic symbol of Lake Mainit.

“Mayor Montero on the other hand said post-harvest facilities needed in Lake Mainit include ice-making equipment and mechanical drying facilities, along with packaging machines,” Piñol said. (PNA)