TENS of thousands of currently unproductive and idle fishponds and other landlocked areas in Malabon and Navotas can be bought by the government and turned into a bustling city to accommodate the bursting metropolitan population.
Though most of Malabon, Navotas and adjoining Bulacan areas are below sea level, these can be reclaimed and filled with stable filling materials—similar to the decades old reclamation of Manila Bay—and then turn these new lands into a bustling well-planned city of commercial, industrial and mixed residential enclave of low-, medium- and high-cost housing subdivisions.
These proposals were broached to The Manila Times by fishing magnate Roberto del Rosario during the recent launch of his Nautilus Shipyard and Repair Inc. in Navotas, which was previously a no-man’s swampland that was developed with government-partner, the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority.
“These thousands of hectares of real estate, which is just being left to nature [that]can be put to good use and should have been developed by previous and current government administrators,” del Rosario said.
“If these are developed, we can develop a small city that is bigger than Navotas and be connected to the rest of Manila, Bulacan and other metropolitan centers,” he added.
The existing land areas of Malabon and Navotas, which usually get flooded during high tide and strong rains, have no hope of being developed into elevated areas but the landlocked areas in these cities plus the idle fishponds in Bulacan can be developed into another city.
The city to be reclaimed, filled and developed, which becomes part of the inland, is beside the sea and has the potential to be developed into an expanded fishport or port.
Despite the hasty reclamation of the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex during the Marcos administration, still that area has been made productive for so many decades now, del Rosario said. The new reclamation, he said, must be filled within an allowable “curing period” for the filling materials to settle and solidify under water.
He said that the whole fish port in Navotas is a reclaimed area, but it had withstood the brunt of nature since 1976 and continues to be a major source of fish supply for the entire metropolis, with no signs of going under water.
Del Rosario said that the 1.6- hectare site of Nautilus 2 made use of three meters of filling materials.
The Nautilus 2 shipyard was put up out of the urgency from the fishing industry to have a repair and dry docking facility for the maintenance of its fleet. From around 30 to 40 fishing operators when del Rosario first met with the industry, there are now only 10 active players.
Del Rosario said at the rate the active players in the industry is dwindling, “our return on investments here is not sure, it is really a big gamble but then again I also wanted to help keep the industry afloat.”
“We had to do it because if we did not do it, our fishing fleets would rust and depreciate and the more we will lose our domestic fishing industry,” del Rosario said.
The decimation in the active fishing operators was brought about by illegal fishing (which depleted the fishing resources) and the adoption of the 15- kilometer ban from the shorelines (galunggong or rounds scad being by nature not a very deep sea fish also thrives near the shorelines), he explained.