ICONIC SEAWEED. Over a thousand gamet rounds are displayed in Santa Praxedes' 10th Gamet Festival with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on Tuesday, March 27. Photo by Gerard Lucena.

Gamet market ‘booms’ in Sta Praxedes town, official says

Gerard Josef Lucena

Cagayan

SANTA PRAXEDES, Philippines- This town’s Agriculture Officer-in-Charge Eddie Tapec reported a “booming” market for a black seaweed known as “gamet” here, on the heels of Santa Praxedes’ 10th Gamet Festival and 98th Founding Anniversary.

Tapec told media on Tuesday, March 27, local gatherers here harvest over four tons of gamet alone during its season.

Also known as “nori” in Japanese and “black gold” here in the Philippines, gamet or “Pyropia Acanthopora” grows along shoreline rocks and coral reefs from October to March. When processed and dried, gamet can last for years.

Tapec said the number of gamet gatherers in this town have grown to 200 over the past decade. He noted that the industry has helped the locals especially the ones living on the coast where gamet grows.

Gatherers here earn up to P1,500 to P2,000 a day, which is roughly about two kilos of gamet.

Dried gamet, a black seaweed named “Pyropia Acanthopora,” harvested in the shores of Santa Praxedes, Cagayan and in Northern Ilocos region. By Gerard Lucena

The iconic seaweed is also being shipped to abroad and, during the festival, businessmen from Makati came to order the delicious gamet. One gamet round which is nearly the size of a regular palm costs P50.

“May market na talaga. Nung una, medyo mura-mura pa kasi hindi pa nila nalalaman yung importansya ng gamet pero ngayon na, kaya sinasabi natin, nagbu-boom na yung [market,]” Tapec said.

Yet, the local government has regulations through an ordinance to preserve and protect the precious seaweed.

“Ito nireregulate namin para meron kaming stock para dito sa gamet festival para maipakita rin. Sa odinansang ito, dapat ang mga nangunguha ng gamet, mga gatherers natin, ibebenta nila sa mismong bagsakan natin dito sa munisipyo bago sila magbenta dun sa labas. Pag OK na yng nabili natin dito na stock, makakabenta na sila doon [sa labas,]” Tapec said.

He also noted that this step also prevents illegal gamet harvesters, adding that gatherers first undergo training from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), an agency which has partnered with and supported the town over the years. BFAR also provides technology for gatherers here.

Further, gamet harvesters and vendors association here conducts regular dialogues with Mayor Danilo Aguinaldo, and even then during the term of former Mayor and current Vice-Mayor Estrelina Aguinaldo.

Gamet is also considered as the most popular edible seaweed in the Philippines. Gerard Lucena with reports from Benjie De Yro/Northernforum.net