Climate and Environment

Fishers raise concern over 187 reclamation projects in Philippine waters

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Fishers raise concern over 187 reclamation projects in Philippine waters
Members of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) hold a protest at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on August 5, 2022.

MANILA, Philippines — A group of fisherfolk raised alarm over 180 proposed and ongoing reclamation projects that threaten the country’s marine biodiversity and the livelihood of small-scale fishers.

There are 187 reclamation projects across the archipelago, according to an acquired master list of approved, pending, and ongoing dump-and-fill ventures of the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

At least 30 projects are in Manila Bay, while 19 projects are recorded in Negros Occidental, 15 in Panay island, 19 in Cebu and Bohol, and 25 in Eastern Visayas.

Among the projects for implementation include the Navotas City Coastal Bay Reclamation and Development Project, the Manila Waterfront City Reclamation Project, and the Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project.

Special reportFed by the waters

Why are fishers against reclamation?

“This isn’t just figures; these are actual productive marine and aquatic ecosystems to be destroyed and a significant numbers of coastal population to be forcibly displaced to pave way for these profit-driven and environmentally-destructive projects,” Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA national spokesperson, said of the 187 reclamation projects.

Fisherfolk and scientists have long stressed that reclamation projects will decrease fish populations due to the loss of breeding grounds, and disturb fragile ecosystems such as wetlands and mangrove forests.

Large-scale dump-and-fill projects may also result in flooding, land subsidence and liquefaction.

“On top of its environmental impacts, reclamation entails massive displacement of fisherfolk and a consequent threat to local fish supply,” Arambulo said.

Next steps

PAMALAKAYA renewed its call for the abolition of the PRA, formerly known as the Philippine Estates Authority, calling it a “useless agency facilitating massive destruction” of productive waters and coastal communities.

The agency was created by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1977.

The fishers’ group also urged the current administration to certify as urgent a bill declaring Manila Bay a reclamation-free zone. The House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc filed a bill prohibiting all forms of reclamation activities in Manila Bay. No similar bill has been filed in the Senate.

“We urge Marcos Jr. to take a categorical stand on this crucial issue that is not only environmental, but also involves our fishery production and local food security,” Arambulo said. 

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