Sunday, March 16, 2014

Manila Bay creeps into mainland Bulacan

Fishpen established on damaged fishpond in Hagonoy.  Dino Balabo

HAGONOY, Bulacan—Fisherfolk and pond operators in this coastal town expressed apprehension over increasing damage on fishponds on the coast of Manila Bay.

They said that Manila Bay is expanding and creeping inland as pond dikes which serve as buffer to inland communities continue to deteriorate.

Local officials estimated that at least 800 hectares of private fishponds has been damaged in the last three years.

This is in addition to more than 400 hectares of propius or municipal fishpond that started to deteriorate in 2007.

One of the effects of continuing degradation of fishpond dikes is the conversion of fishponds into fishpens, especially those that fronting the Manila Bay.

Louie Libao, head of the municipal fisheries officer of this town told the STAR that  big times fishpond operators resorts to conversion to recover their investment.

He explained that many fishpond operators are just renting the pond from private owners.

Rent contract usually ranges from five years or more, and it includes regular maintenance and rehabilitation of pond dikes.

Libao said that pond renters are always racing to protect their fish stocks but are also usually over taken by events like typhoons that generates storm surges that washes out pond dikes.

“They have investment to protect and recover, so, they converted the fishpond into fishpens,” Libao said while pointing at tall nets attached to bamboo poles inside the damaged pond dikes in Barangay San Roque here.

However, he said that some pond renters started to remove parts of the old dikes for water to easily flow.

Libao said that the pond conversion into fishpens started about three years ago when pond renters gave up on rehabilitation of pond dikes fronting the Manila Bay.

A former municipal councilor, Libao said they have ratified a number of resolution and ordinances in relation to coastal resources management, but it was not implemented by the previous municipal administrations.

The non-implementation of local laws now proved costly as it resulted in the degradation of fishpond dikes.

Incumbent councilor Elmer Santos on the other hand said that they are now crafting an ordinance that will regulate operations of fishpens.

However, he said that are still waiting for the results of  laboratory tests on water samples they submitted to the Department of Science and Technology.

Santos explained that the laboratory results will be one of the basis for the ordinance, noting possible contribution of fishpen operations to municipal waters.

As this developed, fishpen operators said they are willing to obey possible regulations that will be imposed by the local government.

They even said that they are willing to stop operations of fishpen by they demanded one condition.

That is for the local government to rehabilitated damaged fishpond dikes fronting the Manila Bay.

The said pond dikes served as protection for local fishponds here for generations.

However, said dikes were washed out by storm surges because mangrove forests were reduces to patches leaving the dikes wide open to waves and storm surges.  Dino Balabo