P500 M needed to jumpstart Laguna Lake ecotourism zone
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - August 6, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Approximately half a billion pesos will be needed next year to jumpstart the conversion of Laguna Lake, the country’s largest body of freshwater, into an ecotourism zone as part of the administration’s plan to prioritize small fisherfolks in the area.

In an interview with The STAR, Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) general manager Neric Acosta said around P500 million would be ideal to start Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s conversion masterplan.

“If we want to make it in real time, then allot billions. But we should do this one step at a time and not haphazardly. We will do everything we can for that,” he said.

Lopez earlier ordered the destruction of large fish pens allegedly owned by large corporations occupying the area.

“We are going a step further, we’re gonna convert the whole Laguna Lake into a magnificent ecotourism zone,” Lopez said.

But Acosta emphasized converting the whole 911-square kilometer lake would transcend even after the Duterte administration.

“Ecotourism, including organic farming, are doable in the east side. But the rest of the area would take more than one presidency,” he said.

Acosta said the conversion would require additional manpower as it is not only about building an ecotourism site alone, but would require waste water treatment, pollution control, and land treatment among others.

“It’s a good thing that the President and the Secretary are prioritizing the lake. And several private sectors have also expressed their interest to participate [in the conversion],” he added.

The LLDA is already looking into 10 pilot areas in the East Zone in cooperation with the Departments of Tourism and Trade and Industry, Office of the President and local government units.

Meanwhile, the dismantling of fishpens and the eventual conversion of the lake into an ecotourism area is feared to have an adverse effect on the supply and price of fish in the metro.

Laguna Lake fishpens are the source of close to 40 percent of the fish requirements of Metro Manila.

In line with this, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of the Department of Agriculture is set to come up with a back-up plan to ensure demand of consumers will be filled up.


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