ON THE deadline of the fish pen demolition, the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and the environmental alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement urged authorities to hasten the demolition of corporate-owned fish ponds.
They addressed their demands with the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Friday to hasten the demolition of wide, corporate-owned fish pens in Laguna de Bay to bring back the common fishing ground of small and municipal fisherfolk in Laguna lake.
The government has been dismantling wide fish pens in Laguna de Bay since January this year in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to clear fish pen structures for the utilization of small fisherfolk.
Fish pen operators have been given until March 31 to harvest their fish stocks and to self-demolish their structures.
Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya chairperson, said in a statement: “We laud the coherence of the DENR to demolish vast tracts of fish pens in Laguna de Bay.
“This is a welcome development for the Laguna lake fishers who have been deprived of their common fishing grounds over the years due to proliferation of fish pens.
“We have been calling for the abolition of all fish pen structures not just in Laguna de Bay, but in all parts of Philippine waters ever since but our call always falls into deaf ears from the previous administrations.”
The two groups reiterated their call not to include small fish cages and fish traps in the demolition order by revising the LLDA Board Resolution 518 which covers all fish pens, fish cages and other structures situated in Laguna de Bay in the demolition campaign.
“Although we support government’s anti-fish pen campaign, we will oppose any plan to eject small fish structures owned by small fishermen. The government must only demolish fish pens that exceed 40 hectares,” said Hicap.
“We also demand an immediate relief and livelihood support for the fish pen workers who will be affected by the anti-fish pen campaign. The government must provide an alternative livelihood for those who are employed in fish pens,” said Ronnie Molera, SLLM spokesperson.