Dagupan City Mangroves disappearing, says DENR
DAGUPAN CITY—Land conversion and aquaculture are taking their toll on this city’s mangrove forest, a report from the Coastal and Marine Management Division (CMMD) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.
In a report, CMMD said mangrove areas here have been either converted into aquaculture sites or reclaimed for subdivisions or expanded commercial areas.
“Conversion is a major issue in the decimation of mangrove forests in Dagupan. This is the land-use conversion from mangroves to fish ponds or to settlement and commercial areas, as well,” said Darwin Ablang, a CMMD staff member.
Ideally, he said, there should be 4 hectares of mangroves for every hectare of fish pond.
“But in Dagupan City, mangroves are just in the embankments and the ratio now is a hectare of mangrove for every 5 ha of fish ponds,” he said.
But even mangroves growing on riverbanks and fish pond dikes have been disappearing as residents cut these for firewood and charcoal.
In 2006, Teddy Villamil, then executive director of Dagupan Estuarine Aquaculture Fisheries Growth and Technology Linkages Inc. and now head of the city government’s waste management division, said residents in a village here felled an entire strip of mangroves on a fish pond dike.
“Nobody was arrested. In fact, in the last 10 years, I do not know of anyone having been arrested or fined for cutting mangroves,” he said.
Under the Dagupan fishery ordinance, people caught converting mangrove areas into fish ponds and for other purposes will be asked to reforest these and pay a fine of not less than P5,000.
Ablang said of the 48 mangrove species in the country, 13 are found here, including the malatangal (Ceriops decandra), which was declared “near threatened” and “rare” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a global environmental organization founded in 1948 that has at least 1,200 member organizations.
In spite of the mangroves’ poor condition here, their degradation can still be stopped, he said.
“We can still save them. But it needs a strong political will,” he said.
Among CMMD’s recommendations are massive information and education campaigns on the importance of mangrove ecosystems, continuation of species identification in all villages with mangrove areas and preparation of a map to help in data banking and management planning. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon