PAMALAKAYA demands compensation from big fishing firms over Laguna de Bay
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) is asking Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez to demand for compensatory damages from the corporate and individual fish pen operators who occupy large chunk of the 90-thousand hectare Laguna de Bay since 1990s.
PAMALAKAYA welcomed Secretary Lopez’s planned imposition of moratorium on the issuance and renewal of fish pen permits this coming January but said DENR should make those fish pen operators pay for their damages on the environment of the lake and the livelihood of the Laguna Lake fishers who have lost their traditional communal fishing grounds due to fish pen proliferation.
“Laguna de Bay has become congested since fish pens sprout like mushrooms in the brackish lake. This inflicts severe damage to the lake because fish pens use chemical-based substance as feeds to culture fish. Small fishers suffer more because it narrow their traditional fishing grounds and now they huddle over the small fishing waters left,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Lake’s capacity only allows 9,000 hectares of fish pens or 10% of its size. But currently, fish pens in Laguna de Bay have reached more than its capacity even by Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA)’s account. Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA), a provision of the Fisheries Code of 1998 only allows private individuals and corporations in Laguna de Bay to own up to 50 hectares of fish pens for 25 years. But some giant fishing firms own more than what the law designates.
“Just under the LLDA’s tip of the nose, private corporations like Frabelle Fishing Corp. have managed to own more than 50 hectares of fish pens by using different dummies or exchanging huge commissions with the LLDA officials and local government units,” Hicap said.
DENR should also look on the possible accountability of the LLDA on why vast-tracts of fish pens suddenly spread throughout Laguna de Bay.
“Aside from moratorium on issuing fish pen permits, DENR should also make big commercial fishing firms and individuals immediately pay for the economic damages and environmental catastrophe they inflicted to Laguna de Bay and its small fishers,” Hicap ended. ###