Fisherfolk group: Manila Bay is ‘alive and well’

Manila Bay is not dead.

A fisherfolk group confirmed that the marine resources of Manila bay are “at risk” and threatened by reclamation projects, but it also stressed that a significant number of fishermen primarily from Cavite, Metro Manila, Bulacan, and Bataan still depend on its fishing grounds.

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a statement on Friday, Feb. 3 said “Manila Bay is alive and well,” refuting claims of local government units (LGUs) that the body of water is already considered “dead” due to pollution.

“Contrary to the claims of local officials, Manila Bay still has diverse marine resources,” said Pamalakaya in Filipino, citing a report published by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) saying “there are coral covers discovered in the southern part of Manila Bay, specifically in the province of Cavite.”

Pamalakaya, however, warned of the impending effects of massive and ongoing reclamation projects in the bay. Currently, there are at least 30 reclamation projects in the body of water, 21 of which already have an environmental compliance certificate according to the group.

Fisherman (Pixabay)

Revocation of environmental permits

In October 2022, the fisherfolk group, together with other progressive groups in the country, urged DENR to revoke and scrap the environmental compliance certificates for Manila Bay reclamation projects.

Through this “science-backed” opposition, Pamalakaya highlighted that these projects not only threaten the livelihood of small-scale fishermen, but also bring harm to the fragile marine ecosystem of the bay.

Instead of pushing for reclamation, Pamalakaya told LGUs to support Filipino fishers in promoting and seeking “genuine” rehabilitation such as, but not limited to, coastal restoration and reforestation of mangroves.