DENR sets dialogue with fishpen owners

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to dialogue with fishpen operators in Laguna Lake ahead of the planned moratorium on the issuance and renewal of permits early next year.

“The thrust is to send the message that the DENR will rationalize the lake and the bias will be for the fisherfolk to have access to their traditional fishing ground,” Environment Undersecretary Arturo Valdez said.

The dialogue, which will be led by Environment Secretary Gina Lopez herself, is in line with President Duterte’s earlier directive to demolish fishpens to ease congestion and prioritize small fisher folk in the area.

It even came to a point when Duterte warned he may order the military to dismantle the fishpens should their owners do not follow.

Details on when the dialogue will be held were not immediately available.

According to government data, fishpens occupy 13,000 square meters of Laguna Lake, already exceeding the ideal 9,000.

These are managed by around 3,000 operators, only more than 1,000 of whom are deemed legitimate, while around 2,200 are illegal.

Valdez said their demolition aims to send a strong message against the operators of illegal structures in the lake.

He said enforcement of the President’s order to remove illegal aqua facilities will start by next week.

DENR will then proceed to convert the lake into an ecotourism zone together with the Laguna Lake Development Authority, 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 sources of close to 40 percent of the fish requirements of Metro Manila.


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