MANILA BULLETIN:AUGUST 14, 2009
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza called for the liberation of Laguna Lake, on which some 18,000 fisherfolk depend for their livelihood, from illegal aquaculture structures.
“Liberating Laguna de Bay from the clutches of these fishpens becomes more compelling in light of the continuing mandamus imposed by the Dec. 18, 2008, decision of the Supreme Court directing all concerned government agencies, especially the DENR, to rehabilitate the Manila Bay,” Atienza said.
In a meeting at the DENR in Quezon City, the secretary reiterated the need for acceleration of the demolition of fishpens being conducted by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), an attached agency of the DENR, which he described as “very slow.”
“Almost 50 percent of the lake’s 90,000-hectare surface area is now choked by fishpens and the law states that only 10 percent of the area can be set aside for fishpens and fishcages, he said.
The meeting was called by Atienza to find solutions to pressing problems confronting the lake and promote the welfare of small fishermen. Many people living in the area depend on the lake for food. Fish like milkfish or bangus, tilapia, carp, Thai catfish or hito, ayungin, and biya are grown in the lake.
The proliferation of illegal structures, however, has contributed to the degradation of the lake. There is also the problem of pollution from land-based activities. About 77 percent of the pollution load of Laguna de Bay reportedly comes from households, 11 percent from industries, and 12 percent from land run-off.
Aside from man-made problems, the Laguna Lake ecosystem is also affected by the introduction of invasive exotic species that compete with native species for food and space. The Thai catfish has displaced the native catfish and the golden apple snail has displaced the native snail.