Manila, Philippines – Small fisherfolk and mussel (tahong) growers in Cavite belonging to the national fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ang Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) stormed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ahead of its schedule to dismantle fishing structures in Manila Bay covering four coastal towns in Cavite.
PAMALAKAYA during the protest lambasted DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu for his directive, which the fishers’ group earlier called “unjust and anti-fisherfolk” that will directly affect at least 15, 000 fisherfolks and coastal residents who are engaged in mussel and oyster (talaba) aquaculture.
The Cavite Task Force Group for Manila Bay a few weeks ago has installed signages in municipalities of Noveleta, Kawit, and cities of Cavite and Bacoor in Cavite province notifying the public regarding the demolition of “illegal” fishing structures in Manila Bay. The said demolition starts tomorrow, September 7, and will affect mussel and oyster farms in Cavite.
The fishers’ group said that the “DENR is using the rehabilitation program against the livelihood of fisherfolks residing along Manila Bay”.
“Rehabilitating Manila Bay should be to restore its marine resources for the benefit of small fisherfolk. But the DENR’s thrust says otherwise. The government’s rehabilitation program has brought fear among the fishing and coastal population because its aim is to actually destroy our livelihood and displace us from communities,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said during the protest.
Hicap, a resident fisherman in Manila Bay, argued that fishing structures in Manila Bay “do not pose any pollution or harm to marine biodiversity compared to industrial and commercial establishments rampantly discharging solid and liquid wastes into the water”.
“Malaki ang ambag ng mga gigibaing tahungan, talabahan, at saprahan sa seguridad sa pagkain at produksyon ng isda sa ating bansa. Kumpara sa mga nagsulputang matatayog na gusali na itinayo sa mga tinambakang tubig ng Manila Bay, nasusuportahan ng mga tahungang ito ang kabuhayan ng libu-libong mangingisda at pagkain ng mga maralita,” Hicap explained, referring to reclamation projects and conversion projects in Manila Bay.
The fishers’ group “highly believes that the dismantling of fishing structures is the precursor to massive reclamation plan in Cavite, especially in Bacoor City which has 420-hectare proposed reclamation project”. The reclamation project in Bacoor City has already acquired an environmental compliance certificate from the DENR last year.
“Startling and completely alarming. The DENR would surely deny to high heavens that the real score behind the dismantling of fishing structures in Cavite is to pave way for reclamation projects that pose irreversible destruction not only to the livelihood of tens of thousands of fishing and coastal residents but also to the bay’s marine biodiversity and ecosystem. Truth be told, the government’s Manila Bay rehabilitation program is a sham and a sellout in disguise,” ended Hicap. ###
Fisherfolk and urban poor residents from Cavite protest the DENR order dismantling mussel farms and fisheries structures.