DAGUPAN CITY: A group of fishpond owners and fisherfolk here decried the operation of illegal fishpen and fishcages that cause river pollution and siltation resulting in massive fish kills.
Alfredo Dawana, chairman of the Fishpond Owners Operators and Fisherfolk Association of Dagupan City, Inc. (FOOFADCI) said that as of August 20 this year, Lapu-lapu and Malaga fishes cultured in their fishponds estimated at more than P30million were lost to the polluted water.
The group blamed the fish kill to illegal fish cages and fishpens on the river traversing the villages of Bonuan, Pugaro, Salapingao, Carael and Calmay.
“The fishkills in our ponds will not happen if the water in our river is not silted and polluted because of illegal fishcages and fishpens,” Dawana said.
He explained that the primary cause of the pollution and siltation is the waste from milkfish and feeds used by the illegal fishpen operators.
Dawana said 40 percent of feeds poured on the fishpens and fish cages are wasted and only 60 percent are consumed by the milkfish, according to a study of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The wasted feeds then create pollution and siltation.
He said more than 300 fishpens and 200 fishcages occupy the river.
Eduardo Maramba, FOOFADCI president, said the BFAR regional office has ordered the city government to conduct an investigation on the reported illegal operations of fishpen owners but no inquiry was held because majority of the operators and owners are politicians and wealthy businessmen in the province.
The group also sent several letters to the city government in 2010 and 2014 recommending the demolition and removal of the illegal fishpens and fishcages but no action was also taken.
Maramba said their group will submit resolutions to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol for investigation and demolition of the illegal river structures.
The group cited Lopez’s order on the ongoing clearing operation and removal of fishcages and fishpens on Laguna de Bay saying that if the secretary can do that in Laguna, she can do it also in Dagupan City.
They said small time producers like their group will be benefit from the demolition of illegal fishpens because all of their ponds are connected to the river.