Fishers fear the loss of livelihood on DENR’s order vs fishing structures in Manila Bay

Manila, Philippines — The activist fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Thursday slammed the order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to dismantle fishing and aquaculture structures in four coastal towns of Cavite. The group said that “it will bring widespread destruction to the livelihood of thousands of fisherfolk who subsist in Manila Bay through aquaculture.”

The Cavite Task Force Group for Manila Bay has installed billboards in municipalities of Noveleta, Kawit, and cities of Cavite and Bacoor in Cavite province notifying the public regarding the demolition of alleged illegal fishing structures in Manila Bay. The said demolition on September 7 is in compliance with the directive of DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to regulate fishing structures in Manila Bay and tributaries.

In a statement, the fishers’ group said the regulation is “unjust and anti-fisherfolk” as it would take away the livelihood of around 15, 000 fisherfolks and coastal residents in the affected towns who directly depend on Manila Bay by culturing mussels and oysters. Most of them are employed in aquaculture farms that are engaged in managing, maintaining, and harvesting of cultured shellfish in fish pen structures.

PAMALAKAYA also chided the DENR for reproaching the bamboo poles washed into the shores over the recent monsoon rains, to justify the dismantling order.

“Why make a fuss on the bamboo poles washed along the shore when in the first place, these are not pollutants that can cause damage to the marine ecosystem unlike plastic and other solid wastes? It’s common sense that disposed bamboos will naturally submerge in water and eventually decompose,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

Hicap, a resident fisherman in Rosario, Cavite, said that some of PAMALAKAYA members in Bacoor and Cavite City who source their livelihood in Manila Bay’s aquaculture industry would be directly affected by the DENR’s directive. He also slammed the DENR’s Manila Bay rehabilitation program as “bogus” that actually targets the fishing and urban poor population along the bay.

“The real targets of this Manila Bay ‘clean up’ are the poor fishing and coastal population across the bay and not the toxic emitting and pollution spawning industrial and commercial establishments. We warn of strong opposition against this destruction of our livelihood and fishing waters under the guise of a bogus clean-up drive,” ended Hicap. ###

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