TRACKING THE MOVEMENT AND MIGRATION BEHAVIOUR OF FRESHWATER EEL IN THE PHILIPPINES: THE IMPORTANCE OF FISH SANCTUARIES
Collaborators: ZSL Philippines
Location: Philippines – Cagayan River
This work builds on a previous ZSL project in the Cagayan River system, Philippines, that provided the first baseline monitoring data on the three species of tropical eel found there (Anguilla bicolor, A. luzonensis and A. marmorata). As part of the project, a number of protected areas, or fish sanctuaries, were developed within the system in collaboration with local communities to provide protection for flagship species, including anguillid eels.
As part of an acoustic telemetry study, we are tracking the movement of eels within and out of the fish sanctuaries to understand patterns of residency and habitat use. It is hoped that additional receivers placed downstream of the fish sanctuaries, in the main Cagayan River, will also provide information on the timing of the eel’s seaward spawning migration.
A key part of the wider project is engaging with the local community. Local groups including students from local schools, local village (Barangay) officials, fisher folk, local residents, tourist operators and government agencies are actively engaged with the project and are committed to providing assistance with the installation and maintenance of telemetry arrays and capture of study fish.
Findings will contribute directly to assessments of the effectiveness of the newly created protected areas. Further, because our understanding of these tropical eel species is generally very poor, the telemetry data will provide new insights into their movement and migration behaviour; information that is crucial for the development of effective conservation strategies.