Spare ‘baklad’, small fish cages from demolition – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) told the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DERN) and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) to exclude ‘baklad’ or fish traps owned and operated by municipal fishermen from the government’s campaign against enclosed fish pen and fish cages in Laguna de Bay.
The moratorium of fish pen permit in Laguna de Bay starts this year in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to dismantle vast-tract of fish pens in the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake for the utilization of small fishermen who have long been deprived of their communal fishing grounds due to fish pen proliferation.
‘Baklad’ is a kind of fish trap used by small fishers to capture fish and other marine species. Some small fishers in Laguna de Bay have resort to building ‘baklad’ because open fishing is not that suitable due to fish catch depletion caused by gradual deterioration of the lake. Nowadays, the average fish catch in Laguna de Bay is 2-3 kilos per day compared to 10-15 kilos per day before the lake deteriorates.
The DENR has given the fish pen and fish cage operator until March to harvest their cultured fish and to self demolish their structures. The environment agency has also announced that it will demolish those illegal and unregistered fish cages and structures first, casting fear to the small fishers who own small ‘baklad’ and fish cages.
“We fear that even the ‘baklad’ owned by small fishers will not be spared from government’s campaign to dismantle wide fish pens in the lake. Those ‘baklad’ are the Laguna lake fishers’ alternative livelihood since open fishing is not that sustainable anymore courtesy of past administrations’ destructive projects that degrade the lake,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA are firm on its stand that only those wide, corporate-owned fish pens who have long occupy the Laguna de Bay should be demolished.
The fisherfolk group also said abolition of fish pens should lead to proper and complete rehabilitation of the dying lake and not to conversion of the productive fishing water into eco-tourism zone. ###