LLDA set to forcibly dismantle fish pens at Laguna de Bay next month

MANILA-- Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) will start dismantling next month the first batch of 30 fish pens this agency prioritized for removal from dying Laguna de Bay, the Philippines' largest lake.

Such dismantling is part of efforts to ease congestion, pollution and over-fishing in the lake so that this water body can be rehabilitated into the economic driver it once was, noted LLDA General Manager Jaime Medina.

"Top priority for dismantling are fish pens each covering an area exceeding one hectare but without LLDA-issued permits," he told a press conference Friday.

He noted such fish pens collectively cover about 1,000 hectares of Laguna de Bay at present.

Citing Philippine Statistics Authority data, Medina said fisheries production in Laguna de Bay reached some 68,600 metric tons last year.

Aquaculture and open fishing accounted for 57,000 metric tons and 11,600 metric tons of such total production, respectively, he noted.

LLDA said fish, mollusks, crustaceans and planktons are among Laguna de Bay's biological resources.

Siltation and pollution are some of the problems besetting Laguna de Bay, however, jeopardizing this lake's carrying capacity for aquaculture.

Medina said LLDA was already identifying other aquaculture structures that would comprise succeeding batches for dismantling as well.

Second priority for dismantling are structures each with an area exceeding one hectare and with LLDA permits but violated Laguna de Bay's zoning and management plan, he said.

Those structures' operators were delinquent in paying fish cage fees and charges, he continued.

"Our target is to dismantle this year all structures that shouldn't be in Laguna de Bay," he said.

He said LLDA set such target since this agency's one-yearmoratorium on operation of all fish pens and other aquaculture structures in Laguna de Bay will end in January 2018.

LLDA Board Resolution 518 series of 2017 set such moratorium and banned new stocking of fingerlings in Laguna de Bay's existing aquaculture structures.

"Effective immediately, LLDA shall not issue any permit and clearance on any aquaculture activity in Laguna de Bay," the resolution also said.

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 Friday (March 31) this year or else "the same shall be done by LLDA."

According to Medina, LLDA lacks funds to dismantle all the target structures in Laguna de Bay.

LLDA will seek Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) assistance on the matter, he said.

DENR Sec. Gina Lopez earlier assured this department's action for limiting number of aquaculture structures in Laguna de Bay to match this lake's carrying capacity.

Medina said DENR-attached LLDA aims dismantling as many structures as possible before onset of the southwest monsoon or 'habagat.'

"Waters are turbulent during 'habagat,' making it difficult to undertake dismantling operations," he noted.

Dismantling is easier during March, April and May when waters are calm, he said.

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said onset of the annual 'habagat' in the country is around late May.

'Habagat' lasts until around October, PAGASA added.

Source: Philippines News Agency