MANILA, Philippines - The Philippinesâ€™ Seven Crater Lakes in San Pablo City, Laguna have been chosen as the â€œThreatened Lakes of the Year 2014â€ by the Germany-based environmental group Global Nature Fund (GNF).
In commemoration of World Wetlands Day, the GNF drew attention to the advancing destruction of the seven crater lakes, named Sampaloc, Bunot, Mojicap, Pandin, Palakpakin, Yambo and Kalibato.
The GNF and the Friends of the Seven Lakes Foundation (FSLF) are seeking sustainable measures to protect the lakes and improve the quality of their water.
For over 30 years, the Seven Crater Lakes were used for recreational activities by local residents.
However, years of neglect have led to their deterioration.
In the 1990s, illegal constructions sprouted along the lakeshore while fish cages mushroomed on the lakes, covering as much as 70 percent of the surface area.
2012 satellite images showed that fish cages still occupy more than 40 percent of the surface area, compared to the allowable 10 percent.
A supposed moratorium on the renovation of existing fish cages and establishment of new cages has not been enforced.
Bobby Azores, chairman of the FSLF, said the growing number of fish cages exacerbates the degradation of the lakes to the point of killing aquatic life.
â€œThis is evidenced by occasional fish kills and the massive growth of green algae as a result of the high pollution levels of the lake,â€ Azores said.
â€œFreshwater bodies like ponds and lakes, especially a small lake like Lake Sampaloc, are considered to be â€˜stagnant waterâ€™ and have little ability to cleanse themselves, unlike oceans or seas,â€ he added.
Since 2000, the FSLF, along with other environmental organizations, has been striving to make Lake Sampaloc a pilot showcase of lake rehabilitation.