Dagupan mayor: Demolition of illegal fish pens to proceed despite threats

DAGUPAN CITY — Demolition of illegal fish pens in this city will continue despite threats on the lives of members of the city’s Task Force Bantay Ilog by owners of the structures set for dismantling or had already been dismantled, according to Mayor Belen Fernandez.

Noting these threats, Fernandez ordered the task force headed by Maximo Solis to step up their operations against illegal fish pens concentrating on six big structures whose owners were already given sufficient warnings to voluntarily dismantle their pens but continuously ignored such warnings.

Solis said the threats they have been receiving are not new because these had been on since they began demolishing fish pens since day one when Mayor Fernandez began her first term of office.

There was one time when they were proceeding to demolish illegal fish pens, gun shots were fired in the air to scare members of the task force. Since that time, they saw to it that policemen accompany them while they are demolishing fish oens.

He said a fish pen owner he did not identify though told the task force in Pangasinan dialect that he could cut them one by one with his bolo and bury them right in the bottom of fish pen.

The most recent threat and the most serious one, said Solis, was in Barangay Lucao where a fish pen owner reportedly told Solis and his men that he could put a prize of just Php5, 000 on each of their head if they proceed in demolishing his fish pen structures.

Solis said he had all these threats on members of the task force in police blotter and can understand why they are so enraged if their pens are being demolished because raising milkfish in fish pens is a big business.

Despite this, the mayor said demolition of illegal fish pen will continue whoever will be hurt because they are only enforcing an ordinance that banned this kind of structure that was found to be not friendly to the environment in all the waters of Dagupan.

In their stead are fish cages, fish traps called “batikwas” “sure win” ” sky lab” and “sky blue”, as well as oyster beds and sticks whose owners must have to secure licenses and permits from city hall, execute aquatic lease agreement (ALA) with the city government and pay the required fee.

Fernandez revealed that they have already demolished more than 300 fish pens during the last three years and will not stop until the few remaining ones are finally gone in her bid to bring back the old beauty and bounty of the rivers for the benefit of marginal fishermen. PNA/northboundasia.com