Philippines declares war on invading catfish, other alien species [AFP 2006-08-03]
[Photo] A farmer checks his rice farm infested with eggs of the golden snail in the town of Cagsawa, on Luzon island, in July 2006. The Philippines has declared war on the golden snail, catfish and other "alien species" that threaten native wildlife and the environment, Environmental and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes announced.(AFP/File/Romeo Gacad)
MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines has declared war on catfish and other "alien species" that threaten native wildlife and the environment, an official said.
"Not only are invasive species threatening our agriculture, fisheries and forests, they are also causing major impacts to human health and tourism," Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes said in a statement.
He singled out the depredations of the South American catfish, also known as the janitor fish, the African catfish, and the golden apple snail.
The troublesome species were either intentionally or accidentally introduced into the Philippine ecosystem and now pose a threat to the existence of native species, he added.
Fisheries officials say the African catfish devours smaller, native species of freshwater fish.
The voracious golden snail, introduced into the Philippines for aquarium enthusiasts, escaped into rice paddies where they eat the plants.
Alien plants that have invaded the country include the fast-growing softwood yemane and Leucaena leucocephala, as well as mahogany, Reyes said.
Reyes called for greater public awareness of invasive alien species and vowed that the government would enforce laws and policies that regulate imports, field release, and breeding of organisms that are potentially harmful to people and the environment.
The government plans to draw up a plan to control alien species through early detection, rapid response, surveillance and other initiatives, the statement added.