All-out ban on illegal fish pens in Dagupan City backed

July 1, 2015 9:19 am 

DAGUPAN CITY, June 30 –Let's give our rivers a breathing spill so that they will have a chance to recover.

This was the appeal of former city councilor Alex de Venecia when he endorsed a proposed ordinance before the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP), seeking to prohibit the establishment of fish pens in Dagupan City.

De Venecia, president of ths Dagupan Lions Club, said all over Pangasinan, it was only the rivers of Dagupan where there were still fish pens, as he took a more aggressive role as an environmentalist.

De Venecia attended a public hearing on proposed Ordinance No. D-551 prohibiting the establishment of fish pens in all the rivers of Dagupan City authored by Councilor Jeslito Seen.

De Venecia's call was echoed by Boy Estrada, president of the Ulupan na Managsigay ed Dagupan who, however, batted for the giving of livelihood projects to people set to be displaced by the total ban on fish pens.

Seen is confident that the problem of illegal fish pens in the waters of Dagupan City will soon be finally over if draft ordinance no. 0-551 is finally approved by the SP.

In that public hearing, Celso Salazar, assistant Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO), revealed that fish pens are the most destructive polluters of rivers and seas.

Studies conducted by PENRO showed that most of the fish kills that happened in Pangasinan and even in Dagupan City were blamed on illegal fish pens.

Although Draft Ordinance No. 0-551 seeks to prohibits fish pens, it however authorizes the construction of fish cages, fish traps and oyster rafts which are more environment friendly.

Unlike fish pens, these contraptions need no feeds whose parts not consumed by the fish drop in the water to rot and cause pollution.

Ronnie Cayabyab, a member of the group Ulupan, asked if the former fishponds covered by land titles already eaten up by the rivers and are now the location of fish pens are included among those to be demolished.

City Legal Officer George Mejia said that under the Water Code of the Philippines, titled lands that became parts of the river as a result of natural erosion became part of the state of which the DENR has a jurisdiction of.

Mejia said the landowners can recover their property only when their property revert back to its original state, saying that being under water already they became part of the public domain.

He said reclamation of private properties eaten by the rivers is prohibited unless authorized by the Philippine Reclamation Commission (PRC).

Informed that owners of such lands are still paying their land taxes to the government, Mejia said the city government can not cancel the land titles but only the Solicitor General's Office can do it provided it is endorsed by the DENR.

City Agriculture Officer Emma Molina also attended the public hearing that endorsed the proposed ban on all fish pens.

She said many fish pens have already been demolished since Mayor Belen Fernandez took over the helm of the city government.

Others who attended the hearing were Alfredo Daoana, preident of tne Fishpond Owners and Fishermen's Associarion of Dagupan City and Alfredo Caguioa, president of the Fishpond Owners /Bangus Growers Association; Eric Maala, president of the Dagupan Rotary Club and others. (PNA)

RMA/LVM/LVMICUA/2015/RM

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