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Jagna: Squid Center of Bohol
« on: June 21, 2010, 02:18:59 AM »
By Joe Espiritu

 It seems as if Jagna is becoming the squid center of Bohol. Several tons of these marine products are shipped out of Canupao every morning. This may slow down when the moon grows full but in the meantime squid fishermen are making a living. A squid is not a fish actually. It is classified as mollusk. It is a shellfish with its shell inside the body a sort of endoskeleton.

 A squid is carnivorous and cannibalistic. That means it eats other squids. It is caught using multiple hooks. A squid hook looks like a miniature grappler. The circle of hooks is welded around a central leaded wire. The hooks are without barbs. Cut bait is tied around the lead and when a squid bites, it is jerked upwards continuously lest it cuts loose since the hooks have no barbs to hold it. The catch is hauled aboard as fast as possible.

 Though hooks without barbs run the risk of the catch sliding free it is easy to dislodge in preparation for the next cast. The action starts when the squid school is lured within fishing range. When squids are biting, they latch upon the bait the moment the bait stops at the proper depth, which is a short distance from the surface. An expert squid fisherman operates two lines at the same time. Some wish that they may be six armed like an Indian deity to catch more squid.

 The squid in mention is the deep sea squid, the calamare, reddish when fresh and graying when dead. Fishing for those mollusks is at night. Years ago fishermen lure the squid near their boats by using the light of the torch of the bundled coconut fronds. Then some wise guy used human feces in a sock as lure and his catch doubled. However, when his trick was found out, no one bought his catch forcing him to abandon his method. Some guy substituted pollard, which smells the same when wet. But that too was abandoned. An out of town fisherman introduced the borloloy a weak flashing light dropped near the fishing boat. This increased the catch several times making squid fishing an industry.

 Some out of town fishers tried for the meter long deep sea squids. The giant catch commanded premium prices. But to locate their fishing ground is hard. However, on rare occasions the area is found, the fisher hits the jackpot. An oversized deep sea squid outfit was used. A wire noose is attached to snare the passing broadbill sword fish or yellow fin tuna. The operation ceased since favored spots are hard to find.

 The best squid species are found just outside the reefs. The white squids are either netted or fished using dragged lures of artificial prawns. Those squids prefer extended shallows that only few are found in Jagna waters. Those too command premium prices. They are preferred for shashimi or shushi Japanese dishes of sea food eaten fresh.

 Back to the calamare. There was a time when canned squid of this species were imported from California. However, tariff must have stopped their importation since it disappeared from the stores. If Jagna can sustain commercial volume catch perhaps a squid canning industry might be established here. A study must be made to establish the volume and season of the catch to find out if it can sustain a squid canning industry.

 Strange to say, those squids are staple prey for dolphins and toothed whales. Those marine mammals are non existent in the seas fronting Jagna, Perhaps that contributed to the abundance of the squid. Poaching purse seine operators knowing this abundance might sweep the local sea clean depriving small time fishers of their ;livelihood.
 

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Marine Education Center in Jagna, Bohol

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