Lito Atienza's Blog

SECRETARY LITO ATIENZA WARNS OF AN ENVIRONMENTAL THROMBOSIS IN LAGUNA LAKE | October 19, 2009

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (2nd from right) points to the extensive proliferation of fishpens and other illegal aquaculture structures that crowd the 92,000-hectare Laguna Lake which need to be demolished. The illegal structures occupy up to 36,000 hectares or around 45 percent of the water body. Also in photo are from left: DENR-Region 4A Executive Director Nilo Tamoria, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission Executive Director Deogracias Tablan, Jr., DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Eli Quinto and Laguna Lake Development Authority General Manager Edgardo Manda.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (2nd from right) points to the extensive proliferation of fishpens and other illegal aquaculture structures that crowd the 92,000-hectare Laguna Lake which need to be demolished. The illegal structures occupy up to 36,000 hectares or around 45 percent of the water body. Also in photo are from left: DENR-Region 4A Executive Director Nilo Tamoria, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission Executive Director Deogracias Tablan, Jr., DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations Eli Quinto and Laguna Lake Development Authority General Manager Edgardo Manda.

An environmental thrombosis in Laguna de Bay will inevitably occur unless decisive steps are taken against illegal fishpens that are clogging Laguna de Bay. We have clogged the heart of Laguna de Bay with fishpens.

I am reiterating my consistent stand against the proliferation of these aqua structures. Fishpens now occupy as much as 58 percent of the total area of Laguna Lake , exceeding the 10 percent limit set for fishpen belt based on the lake’s Zoning Management Plan.

The Lake has the potential to jumpstart sustainable development in the whole region of Metro Manila, Southern Luzon, and even portions of Central Luzon. It is providentially shaped like a heart but is presently suffering from a thrombosis because of its clogged arteries.

The Pasig River , which connects to Manila Bay , is likewise clogged with silt and is also in need of drastic cleaning efforts. The Pasig river is now being dredged by the DENR and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

There is only one exit point to from Laguna de Bay and that’s the Pasig River, a slight vein that goes out to Manila Bay.

I am disputing claims by other groups that the dismantling of fishpens in the lake would adversely affect some 300,000 fishermen. In reality, there are around 18,000 fisherfolk and some 76,000 families dependent on the lake who will benefit from a fishpen-free Laguna de Bay.

There are studies made on the lake that prior to the proliferation of fishpens in the area, fish catch was up to 82 million kilos or 82,000 metric tons, including 240 million kilos or 240,000 metric tons of shrimps and mollusks. Today, there are no more shrimps or shells, except janitor fish.

There is also a bleak scenario for outlying towns around the lake still submerged in floodwaters. The ebbing of floodwater may take longer than expected unless the DENR’s recommendation against the structures are taken, especially by concerned local government officials.

I’m sorry to say but these areas will remain flooded and will just depend on evaporation unless we clear the passage ways and allow the waters from the lake to flow free.

At the start of the 3rd Senate hearing on climate change, Senator Rodolfo Biazon called my attention to information relayed to him by Public Works and Highways Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane who said that Laguna Lake rose by 10.4 meters as a result of typhoon “Ondoy,” and that for every 18 inches in the rise of the level of the lake, it will take six months to subside.

The DENR is not focusing on Laguna de Bay alone with respect to the fishpen issue, noting that the situation is same in other important water bodies like Taal Lake , Lake Sebu , Manila Bay , Pampanga River , Bulacan River and Sampaloc Lake .

This has been allowed for the past three or four decades. This is an accumulation of our common neglect. So I hope and pray that the Senate Committee on Climate Change comes up with a very strongly worded recommendation to save our water bodies. This is chaos, anarchy and environmental destruction just waiting to explode again.

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