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Nation

‘Stop issuing fish pen permits in Laguna de Bay’

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – A fisherfolk group has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to stop issuing permits to fish pen operators in Laguna de Bay.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said the one-year moratorium is not enough to rehabilitate the lake.

“The moratorium on the issuance of permits for fish pens should be for good. We do not totally reject fish pens in Laguna de Bay, but it should comply with what the lake can only hold. Fisherfolk organizations and cooperatives should also manage the fish pens,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chairman, said.

“Fisherfolk families were deprived of their collective rights to their traditional fishing grounds for decades. Now is the time for them to regain and acknowledge their collective control on the lake permanently,” Hicap said.

Contrary to the claim of big fish pen operators, Pamalakaya said the permanent ban on the issuance of fish pen permits would not result in loss of livelihood for small-scale fishermen.

The moratorium on the issuance of fish pen permits, which is effective next year, is expected to open the lake to municipal fishermen.

Hicap said the ban would also spare the lake from further degradation caused by chemical-based pellet feeds used to culture fish.

“Aside from thousands of factories along the lake which dump chemical wastes into the water, the use of feed additives and chemicals to culture fish is one of the main reasons why Laguna de Bay has reached its dying stage,” he  said.

The lake allows up to only 9,000 hectares for aquaculture.

However, data from the Laguna Lake Development Authority shows big fish pen operators have occupied 22,500 hectares.

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