Laguna lake farm. (Photo: Stock File)
Govt. restructures aquaculture action plan in floating cages
Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 02:00 (GMT + 9)
Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) has decided to open up Laguna Lake and demolish thirty corporate and individually-owned fish pens.
Leading the list issued by LLDA are fish pens owned by White Sand Fishing Corp., Ryan Fishing Corp. and Aquario Corp. all in Taguig City due to the money these firms owe the government in fish pen fees, Inquirer.net reported.
The other fish pens are in the towns of Cardona and Binangonan, Rizal province, and the cities of Calamba and San Pedro, Laguna province.
Jaime Medina, LLDA general manager, said the agency was preparing action plans that would keep fish pen operators informed.
As part of this action plan, the LLDA intends to dismantle smaller fish cages occupying another 1,000 ha of the lake.
Engineer Emiterio Hernandez, of the LLDA’s Environmental Regulatory Department, said the government ranked fish pens for demolition based on the following criteria—without permits, with violations of the zoning map and unpaid fees.
Since early February, the LLDA has been been demolishing abandoned structures, clearing 5 to 6 ha of space in the lake daily. It also gave operators until March 31 to volunteer to demolish their structures.
LLDA officials met again with fish pen operators, who offered to voluntarily demolish up to 20 per cent of their structures by April.
By law, only 10 per cent of any body of water is allowed for use in aquaculture but he considered the limit is “arbitrary” and Laguna Lake’s carrying capacity would determine the area that would be devoted to fish cultivation.
Medina clarified that the one-year moratorium on fish pens was not a total ban on an industry that supplied 57,000 metric tons of bangus and other fish in 2016 alone and that fish pens of not more than one ha would be spared from demolition.
He admitted, however, that the LLDA lost PHP 50 million (USD 996,000) in revenue when it stopped issuing fish pen permits this year.
The government spends PHP 500,000 to demolish a 50-ha fish pen, which is an expense that may not be sustainable.
LLDA is studying the forming of cooperatives of fishermen and a new system of regulating fish pens.
“We’re doing all of these to ensure that small fishermen will benefit,” Medina said.
The demolition of fish pens in the lake had been promised by President Duterte who, during his campaign, narrated how disgusted he was after seeing how congested the lake was while he was on a plane.
Also as part of the same action plan, Medina pointed out that LLDA set the target as the one-year moratorium on all fish pens and other aquaculture structures in Laguna de Bay to end in January 2018.
Apart from such moratorium, the agency decided to ban new stocking of fingerlings in Laguna de Bay’s existing aquaculture structures.
The resolution further ordered all operators of existing fish pens and fish cages in Laguna de Bay to already harvest their fish stocks and demolish respective structures by March 31 this year or else “the same shall be done by LLDA.”