Fishers hit planned demolition of fish pens, mussel farms in Manila Bay

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Fishers hit planned demolition of fish pens, mussel farms in Manila Bay
Fishers on Tuesday held a mass action at the bay to oppose the order to dismantle fish pens and oyster farms.

MANILA, Philippines — The demolition of fishing structures along Manila Bay will wipe out the source of livelihood of thousands fishers in Cavite and displace them from their communities, groups said on Tuesday.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said the demolition of aquaculture farms for mussels and oysters and other structures in the areas of Noveleta, Kawit, Cavite City and Bacoor will threaten the livelihood of 15,000 fishers.

The scheduled dismantling of structures in the bay did not push through Tuesday, giving fishers another day to fight for their livelihood and way of life.

PAMALAKAYA said its members will continue to guard their sources of livelihood against DENR’s plan to demolish what it said were illegal fishing structures.

Fishers on Tuesday held a mass action in the bay to oppose the order to dismantle fish pens and mussel farms. On Monday, they held protest in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' office in Quezon City. 

Anakpawis called the demolition order "unethical and immoral."

"The order was only publicized on August 25, then they want the Cavite fisherfolk to voluntarily lose their sources of livelihood on September 7? This is not governance, this is tyranny," Anakpawis national president Ariel Casilao said.

"This is on top of that we are on the pandemic crisis, where poor sectors are barely surviving and now they want to wipe out a whole livelihood sector that directly affects more than 15,000 fisherfolk," he added.

Groups believe the order to dismantle of fishing structures is precursor to a massive reclamation plan in Cavite, particularly in Bacoor City which has a 420-hectare proposed reclamation project.

For small fishers?

The order is part of the DENR's effort to regulate illegal fishing structures along Manila Bay and its tributaries.

In a release, DENR Calabarzon claimed that small fishers will "benefit the most" once "illegal" fish cages, fish pens and baklad are removed from the waters of Cavite.

"There are spaces in between fish cages and pens, however, the chances for our small fisherfolk to catch fish within those areas are little as most fish are already trapped in the said fishing structures," said Cynthia Rozaldo, Manila Bay Site Coordinating and Management Office-4 regional coordinator.

"The only places where small fisherfolk could have a good catch are in farther areas where big fishing structures are no longer present. It would cost them some gasoline going back and forth," she added.

Citing figures from local government units, DENR Calabarzon said there are 271 illegal aquaculture structures in Cavite City, 97 in Kawit and two in Noveleta for dismantling.

The DENR office will meet with LGUs, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Philippine Navy on September 8 to finalize the composition of teams which will undertake the marking of illegal structures for demolition and discuss the schedule for the activity.



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