Reported fishkill in Dagupan belied

DAGUPAN CITY — Fishermen of Dagupan belied a reported fish kill that allegedly broke out in the city during the onslaught of “habagat” as published on Aug. 20 in a national daily.

In an interview, fishermen Roland Vinoya and Rosemarie Gonzales, both from Talaib, Calmay; and Ricardo Jose and Nelia Perez, both from Sitio Tocok, Lucao–all fish producing areas of Dagupan– said there was no truth to the news report that there was a fishkill and if indeed it happened, only one or two pieces of milkfish perished due to the murky water that flowed from the upstream at that time.

In fact, the City Agriculture Office (CAO) said that the city did not register any fishkill since 2008 because of the continuous efforts of the city government under Mayor Belen Fernandez to clean the river of illegal fish pens and other obstructions.

Fernandez created the Task Force Bantay Ilog, an arm of the CAO, in protecting the city’s aquatic resources from illegal fishpens and blast fishing operations.

Since 2013, at least 508 illegal fishpens covering an estimated area of 7.8 hectares had already been demolished by the task force, COA said.

On the other hand, 63 fishponds allegedly covered by land titles are under verification by the City Assessor’s Office to check the claim of the owners over these properties which were eroded into the rivers over the years.

CAO said the number of fishponds dismantled prevented an estimated 1.5 million bags of fish feeds from being downloaded into the water.

“If more than Php30 million worth of lapu-lapu and malaga perished in the fishponds due to the polluted water as was reported, then why were there no reports on bangus fishkill. This is very unlikely,” said City Agriculture Officer Emma Molina.

Fernandez said that aside from enforcing a “no fish pen policy”, the city would soon implement plastic, debris and fishnet recovery program to free the rivers from pollution and unwanted materials and help fishermen improve their catch. PNA/