Dagupan mayor vows to remove all illegal fish pens

DAGUPAN CITY, May 28 (PNA)–Mayor Belen Fernandez has vowed to end the long persistent problem of illegal fish pens here when she met members of Task Force Bantay Ilog immediately upon her arrival from a weeklong vacation in Spain.

The task force reported that 47 illegal fish pens have already been demolished since January this year while another was voluntarily dismantled by its owner.

Noting that three big fish pens were spared for demolition in the past due to claims by their owners that these are within their titled properties, Fernandez, nonetheless, said these will be the first to go when the task force will resume its operations.

These structures, as big as half a hectare each, are being tended by former and incumbent barangay officials but actually financed by a rich Chinese businessman and by a resident of Binmaley town.

With these three big fish pens gone, it would be easier to manage the rivers as those that remained are small fish cages that however need to be re-sized at five meters by five meters to conform with a city ordinance enacted last year.

She said she wants to restore the old beauty and bounty of the rivers for the benefit of small fishermen who have since depended on the waters crisscrossing the city for their daily living

The mayor said she already dismantled 300 illegal fishpens that were tolerated under the past city administration and will have to finish the fight till all the illegal structures are gone.

Under a city ordinance approved last year, fish pens are now banned all over Dagupan City as they are not environmentally friendly.

Fernandez said only fish cages as well as fish traps such as “batikwas”, “poket”, “sky lab” “sure win”, sky blue and oyster sticks, props and the like are allowed but their owners must have to pay their corresponding Aquatic Lease Agreement (ALA) fee to the city.

Only those who are issued their respective ALAs, are residents of Dagupan and marginal fishermen are allowed to build these structures.

Fernandez ordered the task force headed by Maximo Solis to monitor the rivers 24/7 to see to it that no more illegal fish pens are built.

Solis confirmed that all that have remained in the rivers are actually fish cages but will have to be re-sized since they exceeded the minimum size requirement specified in the ordinance.

These structures up for re-sizing were already marked with red paints and their re-sizing will begin immediately after their fish harvest.

No fish structures will be demolished or re-sized if the fish they stocked have not been harvested in fairness to their owners who also made significant investments on their activities. PNA/ northboundasia.com