Fish Cemetery in Dagupan attracts visitors
DAGUPAN CITY – This time of the year, while people are busy visiting their dead in cemeteries, one cemetery in Dagupan stands out-- the special area for dead fishes.
Conceptualized in 1999, the Fish Cemetery in the northern periphery of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center (NIFTDC) in Bonuan Binloc village, has attracted thousands of people including the 3,752 visitors for this year alone.
Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the NIFTDC, said the idea of establishing a fish cemetery came about when a 1.2 ton whale was abandoned by an owner and was confiscated in Malabon, Metro Manila by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Central Office sometime in February 1999.
In the absence of a facility to dispose the huge animal, it was decided to bring the whale to BFAR-NIFTDC for disposal. It was buried in a plot inside the 24-hectare compound. From a simple grave of the unknown whale (which was nicknamed Moby Dick), the area has become a common grave of other large endangered species.
“The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 prohibits the fishing or taking and trade of rare, threatened or endangered species. Poachers are apprehended and live-specimens are released back to the environment but the dead fish do not have a specific place for disposal, thus the fish cemetery,” Rosario said.
Rosario said the fish cemetery, which is the first in Asia, institutionalizes human respect to animal species that contribute to the balance of aquatic environment but selfishly abused by humans,
“Burying the remains of protected fish species will remind a person that selling and eating their meat is a crime and not tolerated by the government,” he added.
Some 34 fish species, including dolphins, sea turtles and whales are now buried in the rectangular lot measuring 1,312 square meters. Just this year alone, at least 10 big fishes were buried in the cemetery. The latest of which is the Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longilostrus) which died on October 10, 2015. (VHS/PIA-1Pangasinan)