Fishpen demolition won’t lead to food insecurity, conversion will
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday clarified that the campaign to demolish vast-tracts of fish pens in Laguna de Bay will not affect the food security in the country as long as it would be followed by a proper rehabilitation of the lake that would bring back its natural ecology.
The government through Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez is leading a national campaign to liberate the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake from private and corporate-owned fish pens. This is in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to let small fisherfolk maximize and benefit from the lake, whom for years have been deprived of their communal fishing grounds due to fish pen proliferation.
Several fish pen structures have been ejected since January including the Gozon-owned fish pens in Cardona, Rizal measuring 100 hectares.
The fisherfolk group seen this campaign as a welcomed development for the restoration of Laguna de Bay for it will initially unwind the lake from further degradation caused by chemical-based pellet feeds use in culturing fish.
PAMALAKAYA debunks the false claim of fish-pen operators that getting rid of fish pens in the lake would bring food insecurity among the Laguna de Bay residents and in Metro Manila which 40% of annual fish supply come from the lake. In a statement, PAMALAKAYA admits the significant contribution of aquaculture in the fisheries production, there is also a notable decrease in the municipal fishing production. But they also claim that the loss in the municipal fish production is due to invasion of aquaculture in Laguna de Bay where some municipal fisherfolk are forced to become caretakers of fish pens or shift to non-fishing jobs.
“Those handful of fishpen operators who oppose the anti-fishpen campaign greatly benefit from the fruits of Laguna de Bay through exploitation and ownership of the common fishing grounds of thousands of municipal fisherfolk in the lake,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group emphasized the urgent need of proper rehabilitation of Laguna de Bay in order to bring back its ecological balance and natural purpose as fishing water, not an eco-tourism and industrial hub. PAMALAKAYA said proper and genuine rehabilitation starts through opening of the Napindan Hydraulic Control Structure (NHCS), a flood-control structure that desalinates the lake by preventing the entry of the salt water from mixing into its brackish water.
“Successive conversion and reclamation projects of past administrations have put the lake and its aquatic resources on its dying stage. The absence of saltwater and the continuous dumping of industrial wastes onto the lake result to fish catch depletion and total water pollution,”
“In order to sustain our food security and fish supply in the local market, reclamation and conversion of Laguna de Bay must be stopped at all cost,” Hicap said. ###