Climate and Environment

Green groups, fishers raise alarm over possible resumption of reclamation projects

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Green groups, fishers raise alarm over possible resumption of reclamation projects
Boats sail past a reclamation site in Manila Bay on August 10, 2023.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental and fishers’ groups criticized the possible resumption of reclamation projects along Manila Bay, warning this will lead to the continued destruction of coastal ecosystems and threaten the livelihood of fisherfolk. 

The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) said that three projects could resume this year once the suspension on reclamation activities is lifted, according to a BusinessWorld report

These include the 90-hectare Bacoor Inner Island Project, the 15-hectare Navotas Fish Port Complex, and the 650-hectare Navotas Coastal Bay Reclamation and Development Project. PRA added that the 148-hectare Manila Solar City Project was issued a notice to proceed.

“These recent developments show the utter lack of sincerity from the Marcos Jr. administration to investigate and address the impacts linked to reclamation in Manila Bay,” said Jonila Castro, advocacy officer of Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment. 

“The gradual reversal of the suspension of reclamation projects in Manila Bay will mean nothing but the continued destruction of our environment and the livelihoods of thousands of fisherfolk,” she added. 

In August 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered the suspension of reclamation projects in Manila Bay pending a review of their environmental and social impacts, as well as compliance with regulations.

Fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) warned that the possible resumption of reclamation projects would “preempt” the ongoing cumulative impact assessment of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 

“This goes to show that the cumulative impact assessment of the DENR is a sham, and not meant to actually put reclamation projects to stop,” PAMALAKAYA national chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement Sunday.

“The lack of transparency around these decisions is cause for grave concern, and we continue to demand that all of these projects remain suspended until at least the impact assessment is completed,” Castro said.

Decline in fish catch

PAMALAKAYA added that reclamation activities will not boost fisheries production. 

“Data from the government itself indicates the low production output of several fishery species in areas where there are reclamation and dredging projects,” it said.

PAMALAKAYA cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority's Fisheries Situation Reports showing that the catch of blue crab, acetes, siganid, slipmouth, and anchovies declined in Cavite from 2019 to 2021.

In November last year, the PRA approved the resumption of the 265-hectare Pasay Harbor City reclamation project and the 360-hectare reclamation project by SM Prime Holdings. 

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