Offshore mining in Lingayen Gulf will destroy fishers' livelihoods, group says

Offshore mining in Lingayen Gulf will destroy fishers' livelihoods, group says
Satellite image grabbed from Google Maps shows Lingayen Gulf in northwestern Luzon.
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MANILA, Philippines — A federation of fisherfolk on Monday voiced opposition to a proposed offshore black sand mining project off Lingayen Gulf, citing its possible effect on their livelihoods and on the surrounding environment.

The “Iron Ore Pangasinan Offshore Magnetite Mining Project” by Australian company Iron Ore, Gold, and Vanadium Resources (Phils) Inc. is set to extract at least 5 million tons of magnetite per year for a period of 25 years that is renewable for another 25 years.

The project was signed off under the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement No. 07-2020-IOMR that Malacañang approved last November.

In a statement, the Central Luzon chapter of fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakya) said that the proposed project would bring "devastating impacts" to the livelihood of at least 5,000 small fisherfolk in Lingayen Gulf.

The gulf covers five coastal towns in Pangasinan province, with fisherfolk from Sual, Labrador, Lingayen, Binmaley towns and Dagupan City in Pangasinan all expressing "strong opposition" to the project.

“This proposed offshore mining would certainly spell doom to the livelihood of thousands of small fishers who subsist in Lingayen Gulf through various forms of fishing. Not to mention its adverse impact to the livelihood of other coastal residents involved in inland fisheries and salt farms in interior parts,” Bobby Roldan, regional chairperson of Pamalakaya-Central Luzon warned. 

Roldan added that many fishponds and salt farms interconnected to the gulf are also threatened by the planned magnetite mining.

“Magnetite mining is indisputably destructive to the marine environment and ecology. The offshore mining would be carried out 2-4 kilometers from the shoreline wherein mangrove forests providing fertile habitats to wide array of marine species are situated,” the fisherfolk leader also said.

Pamalakaya in its statement vowed "wide resistance from the affected fisherfolk," adding that it will rally other concerned sectors such as champions of the environment, scientists, church institutions, among others against what it said was a “profit-driven and environmentally destructive undertaking.”

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