Fisherfolk welcomes seed distribution in Laguna de Bay, calls to pursue fishpen demolition
Manila, Philippines – The national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday acknowledged the government’s dispersal of 5 million fingerlings in Laguna de Bay through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The restocking of native fish species in the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake is part of the government’s campaign to rehabilitate inland waters such as lakes and rivers.
In a statement, the fisherfolk group said the seeding in Laguna de Bay is a welcome development for this will temporarily support the livelihood of small fisherfolk and fishworkers who were affected by the government’s campaign to demolish vast tracts of fish pens in the lake.
PAMALAKAYA together with environment alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) raised the demand to distribute fingerlings to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the term of its former Secretary Gina Lopez. This is to solve the prevailing problem in the lake of fish catch depletion and to assure the fishworkers who lost livelihood due to fishpen demolition that once they return to open fishing, there will be enough fish to catch.
“We are grateful that the government grants the demand of the fisherfolk for livelihood support. We still call for more fingerling-dispersal drive to convince the fisherfolk to return to traditional mode of fishing instead of being employed in private aquacultures in exchange for paltry allowance,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group on the other hand laments that the campaign against giant fishpens in Laguna de Bay has stopped since the appointment of Environment Chief Roy Cimatu in May.
“We want an explanation from DENR Secretary Cimatu on what just happened to the demolition of fishpens in Laguna de Bay? The fisherfolk eagerly awaits the complete removal of fishpens in order for them to utilize their traditional fishing hub. But it seems the new Environment Secretary has aborted all the positive programs that Gina Lopez had started,” Hicap said.
The fisherfolk group said the complete way to rehabilitate Laguna de Bay aside from dispersing seedlings is to totally remove vast-tracts of private fishpens in the lake that contribute to its pollution through the use of chemical feeds. Data from the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) shows that total size of fishpens in Laguna Lake exceeds to its allowable capacity of 9,000 hectares. ###