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Jagna was once a fish rich town
« on: August 27, 2007, 01:48:05 PM »
By Joe Espiritu
Columnist

Bohol Sunday Post

Don't look now but a phenomenon has just occurred. The pamo fishers had just a heyday, what with tons of blue water fishes particularly the striped, and dog tooth tuna and bonito tangling in their nets. This happens only in fish rich regions like some parts of the Zamboanga provinces but not in Bohol . Where Jagna has to import fish from other towns, it has become an exporter this time perhaps for the time being. We hope this will last for a while. This may be an interesting study for marine biologists.

Legends say that Jagna was once a fish rich town. In fact, the place derived its name from the word nahagna, which means, the sea went dry because of the arrival of thick schools of baitfishes called tigi. The story was apocryphal but anyway informational. The tigi, a sub specie of sardine like other sardine species are filter feeders. They must have found Jagna waters full of plankton to thrive. Their predators such as mackerels and tuna prey on them. Long before the Great War, mackerel and tuna were caught in bungsods or fish traps.

Perhaps, because of population pressure, pollution or ecological changes, the fish population dwindled. Where game fishes were once found a few meters from the shore, they are now found way out. Near shore seas, which once full of plankton are now clean and lifeless. The bolinaw or anchovies, once abundant, are no longer found in Jagna waters. The gabon or lantern fish, which once swarmed beneath coconut leaf torches no longer swim even beneath bright lights. Perhaps the reappearance of the striped tuna in numbers might be a harbinger of things to come.

The first line in the marine food chain is the diatom, minute marine sea grass. The grazers are the radiolarians, dinoflagellates and copepods. They thrive in near shore waters. This means Jagna waters was once fertile. Bathers once complained of itchy waters full of jellyfish larvae and other nektoplankton. Those plankton are in turn preyed upon by anchovies, sardines, scads and other baitfishe. Now, near shore waters are clear, a boon to bathers but a bane for bait fishes.

How to restore Jagna water to its pristine condition is a problem for marine scientists. The first inkling of the returning striped tuna is the presence of the tamban tuloy a sardine sun specie. They are caught in abundance in long lines called one time along with the mackerel. The abundance of mackerel and tamban tuloy caused the influx of the tunas. This happens in some months of the year and in some years but not all years.

Since Jagna fishing units range all over Bohol Sea from Anda to Siquijor, an almanac will be in order so the fishermen may know what to expect in any time of the year in any place in the Bohol Sea . The marine research could be funded by the fishermen and fishing operators association, LGU and a foundation. The information gathered may be useful to all blue water fishermen.

Old Diego Rañoa once predicted the coming of the manta or sanga once. He was either well informed of the coming of the krill or ujap, the small red shrimps. They are either caught in scoop nets or found in stomachs of the mackerel. When they ujap are found, old Diego calls for a buhatbuhat, a ceremony, which is said to make the manta appear in the Jagna waters. Old Diego may be some sort of a clairvoyant but he might have relied on his knowledge of marine biology. If Old Diego was able to predict the arrival of the sanga perhaps, modern biologists could be able to predict the coming of the tunas. It takes a little research. It would save the Jagna fishing units time and money roaming all over Bohol Sea looking for fish.

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