“Small and marginalized fisherfolk will benefit the most in the dismantling of the illegal fishing structures in Manila Bay area”, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) CALABARZON Regional Executive Director and Manila Bay Site Coordinating and Management Office (MBSCMO)-4 Regional Coordinator, Nilo B. Tamoria said.

Kapag equal na ang access sa dagat, magbe-benefit talaga sila doon”, DENR CALABARZON MBSCMO-4 Deputy Regional Coordinator, Cynthia N. Rozaldo backed Tamoria’s statement, explaining that the local small-scale fisherfolk will be affected positively once the illegal fish cages, fish pens, and baklad are removed from the waters of Cavite City, Kawit and Noveleta, Cavite.

She said most of the illegal fishing structures installed in the said areas are owned by big industries. “There are spaces in between fish cages and pens, however, the chances for our small fisherfolk to catch fishes within those areas are little as most fishes are already trapped in the said fishing structures,” she explained. “The only places where small fisherfolk could have a good catch are in farther areas where big fishing structures are no longer present. It would cost them some gasoline going back and forth,” she emphasized.

She said the fisherfolk which may be greatly affected by the demolition are those hired by big companies to work at the said illegal fishing structures. “Fixed lang ang sweldo nila. Mas malaki sana ang kikitain nila kung sarili nila ang business ng pangingisda,” she stressed.

She said the regional department requested the Department of Social Welfare and Development to check if the affected fisherfolk are already recipients of existing livelihood programs. She also mentioned that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources was already tapped to provide technical assistance to the tahungan operators with permits for them to shift to long-line method, a more environment-friendly way of shellfish growing.

On August 24, 2021, billboards notifying the public regarding the dismantling of illegal aquaculture structures within Bacoor Bay were installed at conspicuous places in Cavite City, Noveleta, and Kawit, Cavite. In the said notice to public, the owners of the said illegal structures were advised to self-demolish before September 7, 2021, otherwise, the Manila Bay Inter-Agency Task Force will do the demolition by that date. Per data from the respective local government units, there are 271 illegal aquaculture structures in Cavite City, 97 in Kawit, and 2 in Noveleta for dismantling.

Rozaldo stressed that one of the objectives of their action plan for the dismantling of all illegal aquaculture structures within the waters of Cavite City, Kawit and Noveleta is to increase the fish catch of marginalized fisherfolk.

The DENR CALABARZON MBSCMO-4 will hold a meeting with the local government units, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Philippine Navy on September 8, 2021 to finalize the composition of the teams which will undertake the actual marking of illegal structures for demolition and to discuss the schedule for the said activity.

Early in July 2021, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu directed DENR CALABARZON to regulate illegal fishing structures along Manila Bay and its tributaries. The said instruction was in view of the huge amount of bamboo poles from fish pens, fish cages, and baklads/sapras, which were washed from Cavite waters into the shore of Manila Bay due to the recent southwest monsoon.###