Laguna Lake fish growers see P200M in lossesBy Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
SAN PEDRO, Laguna—Operators of fish pens in Laguna Lake are bracing for bad news as a still undetermined number of fish that they were keeping in the pens were lost when the lake level rose at the height of heavy rains early this week.
Charlie Tan, an operator of fish pens in Binangonan, Cardona and Pililia towns in Rizal province, said some fish pen owners had begun harvesting the fish in the past days but could recover only about
10 percent of their stock.
“I also plan to do so (harvest) but I’m afraid we have nothing left,” he said.
A report from the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), which started inspecting the lake on Friday, said at least 10 percent of the total fish stock was lost and at least 6 percent of the fish structures were damaged.
Tan estimated the amount of losses, including those of the other fish pen operators, to reach P200 million.
Marin Antonio, of the LLDA information office, said reports were being put together to determine the exact amount of the damage. As of Friday, the lake water level reached 13.82 meters above sea level.
In an earlier interview, engineer Emil Hernandez, LLDA hydrologist and enforcement division officer, said the lake’s normal water level during the rainy season was 12.5 meters. He said it could take a month for the water level to return to normal.
In Laguna, officials said as of Friday, 12,505 families remained in 157 evacuation centers as three more centers were opened to accommodate residents fleeing from rising floodwaters.
The towns of Sta. Cruz, Victoria, Bay, Pila, Pakil, Paete, San Pedro, Pangil, Mabitac, Los Baños, Calauan, Lumban, Sta. Maria and Siniloan, and the cities of Sta. Rosa, Calamba, Biñan and Cabuyao were still under water on Friday.
In the fishing town of Binangonan, Rizal, the militant Pambansang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas reported 1,909 families from 18 lakeshore villages lost homes or sources of livelihood as a result of the bad weather.
Some fishermen from Biñan City, however, continued to fish in Laguna Lake even as water levels have yet to recede there, according to evacuee Elizabeth Encialas, 48.
Romy Tapalla, a member of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council in Calamba City, said although fishermen could still fish in the lake, “the catch is not enough.”
Tan said there could be a shortage of fish in the coming days as the supply of fish in Laguna Lake is also threatened by knife fish, a predatory species which feeds on bangus and tilapia fingerlings.
The LLDA earlier this year confirmed the spread of the species in the lake.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) reported an increase of P5 to P15 per kilogram in prices of fish and seashells in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Cavite.