Fisherfolk oppose demolition of fish pens in Manila Bay, fear loss of livelihood

Published September 6, 2021, 1:57 PM

by Joseph Pedrajas

Thousands of fisherfolk—already suffering from the COVID-19 crisis—are at risk of losing livelihood as the national government is set to demolish structures they have built for mussels and oysters farming in the Manila Bay.

Members of fishers’ group PAMALAKAYA (Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ang Pilipinas) on Monday, Sept. 6, stormed the headquarters of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to oppose its order to dismantle structures, such as fish, mussel and oyster cages as well as fish pens, installed in four coastal towns in Cavite.


The demolition, which is scheduled to start on Tuesday, will affect “at least 15,000 fisherfolks and coastal residents who are engaged in mussel and oyster (talaba) aquaculture,” the group said in a statement.

“Rehabilitating Manila Bay should be to restore its marine resources for the benefit of small fisherfolk. But the DENR’s thrust says otherwise,” PAMALAKAYA chairperson Fernando Hicap said during the protest.

For Hicap, who is also a fisherman in Manila Bay, fishing structures in the area “do not pose any pollution or harm to marine biodiversity” as compared to “industrial and commercial establishments rampantly discharging solid and liquid wastes into the water.”

He said the fishing and farming structures “greatly contribute” to the food security of the people and supply of fish in the country.

PAMALAKAYA believed that “the dismantling of fishing structures is precursor to [a] massive reclamation plan in Cavite, especially in Bacoor City which has a 420-hectare proposed reclamation project.”