Laguna lake fishers, advocates picketed LLDA, DENR to demand rapid fish-pen
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) together with environmental alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) on Monday staged a picket in the offices of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to demand the immediate and unconditional dismantling of wide fish pens owned by large corporations and individuals in Laguna de Bay.
Vast-tracts of fish pens in the 90-thousand-hectare brackish lake are now illegal after the government ceases from issuance of permits in line with its campaign to dismantle fish pens in Laguna de Bay to give way for the utilization of small fishers who have been deprived of their common fishing grounds for years due to fish pen proliferation and congestion.
Conservative data from the LLDA shows that there are approximately 13,000 hectares of private fish pens situated in Laguna de Bay. But deeper study conducted by PAMALAKAYA and SLLM claims that 60% of the size of Laguna de Bay is currently occupied by private fish pens.
PAMALAKAYA and SLLM welcome the government’s anti-fish pen campaign, but said it should be done hastily for the small fishers eagerly await their fishing zone to be reopened again for common use.
“Getting rid of wide fish pens in Laguna de Bay is a good riddance. It is a welcome development towards reviving the dying lake because it contributes to the lake’s pollution through its chemical-based feeds used to culture fish. But government should be strictly enforce its anti-fish pen campaign targeting large corporations and individuals who own more than what is the designated size by using different dummies,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Carrying capacity of Laguna de Bay for aquaculture is only 10% of its size, meaning it can only hold up to 9,000 hectares of aquaculture. But even the LLDA’s conservative data shows that total size of fish pens in the lake has exceeded to its carrying capacity.
PAMALAKAYA and SLLM said the anti-fish pen campaign should lead to genuine rehabilitation of the lake and not to pursue the total conversion of the lake from productive fishing zone into money-making business hub of few developers.
“Vast tracts of fish pens should not be replaced by another privatization scheme like eco-tourism hub. Laguna Lake is for the small fishers and its residents. We will not allow another private entity to monopolize Laguna de Bay after wiping out wide fish pens,”
“A genuine rehabilitation means restricting factories and industries to dump its chemical wastes into the lake and reopening the Napindan Channel which barred the entry of salt water into the lake, depriving it on its natural and ecological balance. Rehabilitation must benefit the small fisherfolk and the Filipino people,” Hicap ended. ###