The city government of Bacoor started the demolition of illegal fishery structures in Manila Bay area, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Nilo B. Tamoria declared.

During the seaborne monitoring and clearing operation conducted by the Bacoor City Agriculture Office (CAO)-Deputy Fish Warden on August 4, 2021, a 500 sq.m. old bamboo-fixed fish cage as well as old bamboo huts had been demolished. Moreover, based on the latest information given by Bacoor CAO, one sapra operator by the name of Lucila Cotanas already self-dismantled her fishing structure while other operators were expected to have followed in her footsteps, assuming that they have already seen and read the billboard notifying the public on the deadline set by the Manila Bay Inter-Agency Task Force for the illegal fishing operators to self-demolish.

On the other hand, in a meeting held on September 3, 2021 regarding the planned marking and demolition of illegal aquaculture structures in Cavite waters to be spearheaded by DENR CALABARZON, a representative from the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG) reported that one illegal sapra operator in Noveleta already self-demolished while another one, with structure located within the disputed boundary of Noveleta and Cavite City, was already arrested. Overall, PNP-MG apprehended three illegal operators in the seawaters of Noveleta and Cavite City and detained the same at Tanza Municipal Police Station on August 31, 2021, he reported.

Frederick Sierra from Cavite City Government reported that only one sapra operation within their jurisdiction remained active. Also, a representative from the LGU of Kawit, Cavite reported that they are re-assessing the aquaculture structures within their area of responsibility, including the legality of the same. Per latest information provided by its respective local Agriculture Office, none of the illegal sapra and baklad operators within Cavite City and Kawit have self-demolished.

Tamoria expressed his deep appreciation to the LGUs of Bacoor City, Cavite City, Kawit and Noveleta for their support and active participation in the program of the DENR to rehabilitate Manila Bay, particularly, in the project of the department to clear the illegal fishery structures in Cavite. “Ang ating ginagawang activity dito sa bahagi ng Cavite ay bilang pagtugon lang sa atas ng ating kataas-taasang hukuman na linisin ang Manila Bay at ibalik ang kalidad ng tubig nito sa SB level. Ito ay bahagi lamang ng malaking programang rehabilitasyon ng Manila Bay,” he said.

Tamoria stressed that, in order to achieve Class SB for water quality, only three activities are allowed within Manila Bay area, these are: ecotourism, water sports, and fishery activities limited to mussel propagation and fish spawning. “Sa SB level ng kalidad ng tubig, bawal talaga ang mga aquaculture structures liban sa propagation ng shellfish o ng mga tahong, at spawning ground ng mga semilya ng isda sa mangrove area,” he explained while emphasizing that fish cages, fish traps, sapras and baklads are not allowed in the Bay area.

Per latest report from Bacoor LGU, 202 of the 351 mussel operators were already given permits. The CAO also conducted a dialogue with tahungan operators to encourage them to completely shift to long-line method, a more environment-friendly way of mussel propagation. The said operators were also instructed to trim the old bamboo stakes to the lowest level of the tide to prevent it from breaking, while the long-line technology adopters in Barangay Talaba 2 were discouraged to use styrofoams as floaters to their long line as the said material eventually pulverize which could cause the death of marine animals when they eat it.

Per update from the CAO of Cavite City, the said office is currently drafting an ordinance relative to the tahong operators who practice the long-line method. However, they clarified that they have not issued any permit for mussel propagation within their jurisdiction.

With regard to the demolition project of the DENR, Tamoria said they have already prepared a concrete action plan for the dismantling of illegal aquaculture structures in Manila Bay area, “Magma-marking po kami sa September 15-17, 2021. Mamarkahan namin, sino ‘yung ilegal, sino ‘yung legal. And then, hopefully maisagawa namin ang aktwal na demolisyon sa September 20-27, 2021. Tutal naman ang buwan ng Setyembre ay Cleanup Month, kaya bahagi ito ng ating gagawin(g selebrasyon),” Tamoria shared the lined up activities of the regional department in partnership with the LGUs concerned, PNP-MG, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Navy, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Para sa post operation, may mga grupong bubuuin upang masigurado ang wastong pagtatapon ng mga tinanggal na kawayan. Sa tulong ng NBI at ng aming Legal Division, magsasampa na tayo ng criminal complaint. At patuloy pa rin nating imo-monitor ang mga gawain sa lugar sa pakikipagtulungan ng LGU, PCG, PNP-MG, DPWH, NBI at Philippine Navy nang sa gayon ay maiwasan ang pagtatayong muli ng mga ilegal na istruktura,” Tamoria added.

The regional executive director encourages the public to join in the #BattleforManilaBay” program of the Department. “Ako po ay nananawagan sa buong mamamayan ng Cavite at ng ating bansa na suportahan itong ating panawagan at makiisa po sa ating pamahalaan sa layunin nating malinis ang kapaligiran at katubigan ng look ng Maynila,” he said.

Early in July 2021, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu ordered DENR CALABARZON to regulate illegal aquaculture structures in Manila Bay, 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.###