Image Credit: ~MVI~/Flickr
The lobed river mullet, Cestraeus plicatilis, is prized for its unique aroma and special taste—something that motivated former president Ferdinand Marcos to keep up to a year-long supply on hand at all times. Now, the "president's fish," as it is known in the Philippines, is also that country's most valuable, selling for as much as $114 per kilogram.
The only problem is that catching the mullet is becoming increasingly difficult as the species is overfished to the brink of extinction.Jovita Ayson, a regional director of the fisheries bureau in the Philippines, explained:
It is a threatened species and we have to do something about it before it goes extinct. If we don't stop the indiscriminate catching, in a short while, it could vanish.
Keeping people from pursuing such a lucrative catch, however, is difficult. Many fisherman rely on the fish—and some wealthy buyers will prepay for one.
Still, as numbers dwindle the quality, too, has been diminished. Where once fisherman were able to catch adults weighing more than two kilograms, now, fish weighing as little as 250 grams are the standard.
With the market for the endangered fish, which spawns in only a few rivers of the world, still entrenched, the fisheries department is forced to try other tactics to save the species. In addition to a large-scale education campaign, they have begun an experimental breeding program they hope can save the "president's fish."