Laguna lake fishers laud recent fish-pen demolitions, urge for speedy removal of vast
Manila, Philippines – The Laguna lake chapter of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) together with the environment alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) laud the recent demolition of several corporate-owned fish pens in the 90-thousand hectares brackish lake.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the two series of demolitions of wide fish pens on January 27 and February 24 where 3 fish pen structures covering 50 hectares each and 1 fish pen covering 25 hectares were dismantled, namely the two Gozon-owned fish pens in Cardona, Rizal, the Seven Eleven Fishing Corporation and the Habagat Multipurpose Cooperative in Binangonan, Rizal respectively.
PAMALAKAYA said so far, no small fish cages and fish traps/corals (baklad) have been subject to ejectment but they reiterate their call to spare those small fish structures owned by small fisherfolk and some fisherfolk cooperatives because it serves as their alternative livelihood to open fishing since the latter is not sustainable enough due to dwindling of fish catch.
“Open fishing alone can’t sustain our family’s daily needs due to depleting fish catch. This is the reason why we still need an alternative mode of fishing like culturing of fish or setting up a trap like baklad,” Ronnie Molera, Spokesperson of Save Laguna Lake Movement and also a baklad owner in Muntinlupa said in a statement.
The fisherfolk casts fear that sooner or later, even their small fish cage structures might be included in government’s anti-fish pen campaign due to the written Board Resolution 518 of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) declaring a “one-year moratorium on the operations of all fishpens, fishcages, and other aquaculture structures” in Laguna de Bay. But although several DENR officials have assured the fisherfolk that they will only target those large fish pens, they are still doubtful that LLDA enforcers would spare their small structures.
“The anti-fish pen resolution order should be revised and specify that only those corporate-owned large fish pens should be on the government’s top watch list. We could help pinpoint some giant corporations occupying the Laguna de Bay for years. We also urge the DENR to expedite its removal of vast-tracts of fish pens for the speedy recovery of Laguna de Bay that will be deemed beneficial to the small fishers,” PAMALAKAYA and SLLM said in a joint statement. ###