Fishers' group wants clearer resolution on Laguna de Bay fishpen ban
Pamalakaya is worried small scale fishers will be affected by the ban.
File photo
Fishers' group wants clearer resolution on Laguna de Bay fishpen ban
Elizabeth Marcelo ( - February 27, 2017 - 7:31am

MANILA, Philippines -- Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas on Sunday called on the Laguna Lake Development Authority to revise its board resolution on the implementation of a one-year moratorium on fishpen operations in Laguna de Bay.

In a press statement, Pamalakaya said the LLDA's recently approved Board Resolution 518 Series of 2017 did not categorically state that only the operations of wide fishpens and fish cages by commercial aquaculture corporations will be disallowed in the 90,000-hectare lake.

The group said the board resolution is causing fear among the small-scale fisherfolk that their small fish cages and fish traps or baklad will also be the subject of the ongoing demolition operations of the LLDA in and DENR in connection with the moratorium.

“Although both the LLDA and the DENR have verbally assured us that small fish cages and baklad will be spared, we can’t relieve our worry because it is written in the board resolution itself that all enclosed structures, whether large or small will be ejected,” Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap said.

“We also fear that shanties and houses situated on top of the lake will be categorized as ‘other structures’ that is included in the resolution,” he added.

In its resolution dated February 1, 2017, the LLDA said the one-year moratorium covers the “operations of all fishpens, fish cages, and other aquaculture structures in Laguna de Bay”.

The agency further directed all the operators who still have fish pens and fish cages in the Laguna De Bay “to harvest their fish stocks and demolish their structures by March 31 2017, otherwise, the same shall be done by the LLDA”.

Environment Secretary Regina Lopez and LLDA general manager Jaime Medina, chairman and vice chairman of the LLDA, respectively, signed the resolution.

Hicap said that while both Lopez and Environment Undersecretary Ipat Luna have already assured them that small-scale fisherfolk will be protected from the moratorium and the clearing operations, it is better to put this verbal promise in black and white.

Hicap suggested that the Board Resolution be revised to specifically state that only the corporate-owned fish pens measuring 50 hectares and above shall be the subject of the moratorium and the demolition operation.

It was late last year when Lopez ordered a moratorium on the issuance of permits to fishpen operators in the Laguna De Bay.

The moratorium was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to dismantle vast tracts of corporate and private fishpens and fish cages to give priority to small-time fisherfolk as well as to give the Laguna lake time to recuperate from massive commercial operations.

Prior to the implementation of the moratorium, the DENR's conservative estimate show that 13,000 hectares of the 90,000-hectare Laguna De Bay were being occupied by fishpen operators, including the illegal ones.

Laguna Bay's current carrying capacity allows up to only 9,000 hectares for aquaculture.

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