By Ellalyn de Vera Ruiz
A local fisherfolk group cited the recent discovery of thriving coral reefs as another reason to protect Manila Bay from massive reclamation projects.
“It is crystal clear that Manila Bay is alive and well; it is still the number one source of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of small fisherfolk in the provinces of Cavite, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, and the National Capital Region (NCR),” Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) national chair Fernando Hicap said.
Hicap, a fisherman in Rosario, Cavite, said that despite the declining fish catch due to years of environmental degradation, Manila Bay still provides livelihood to the coastal towns of Cavite.
Pamalakaya said reclamation projects in Bacoor, Cavite, alone covers 2,276 hectares.
In Rosario, Cavite, proposed reclamaion projects cover a 2,900 ha.
The fisherfolk group said the reclamation projects threaten to displace at least 26,000 coastal families from the towns of Bacoor, Noveleta, Kawit, Rosario, and Cavite City.
Based on the research of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, 72 percent of estimated reef area is found in Cavite.
“While study shows that majority of the coral reefs is situated in Cavite, thousands of hectares of reclamation projects, on the other hand, are also found in the province. This means thousands of hectares of fishing grounds, mangrove forests, coral reefs, and seagrasses will be destroyed to pave way for private businesses and infrastructures,” Hicap said.
“There should be no room for any reclamation project not only in Cavite but in the entire waters of Manila Bay to preserve its diminishing fish species and threatened coral reefs,” he added.
Pamalakaya urged DENR to protect Manila Bay by disapproving the environmental compliance certificate or ECC and area clearance of these projects, which are both crucial requirements for a reclamation project to proceed, Hicap also said.