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LLDA funds sought for fish kill recovery

/ 09:58 PM June 04, 2012

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—Fishermen suffering from huge losses due to last week’s fish kill in the Laguna de Bay are asking local government units (LGUs) for assistance in securing funds provided to lakeside localities by the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).

Members of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Council (FARMC) from this town and Calamba City met with Los Baños Councilor Jay Rolusta last week to discuss how they could avail themselves of help through the LLDA fund. They were accompanied by leaders of the nongovernment organization Kilusang-Lawa Kalikasan.

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Experts from the LLDA and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources were still investigating the real cause of the fish kill. They earlier said it could be due to reduced oxygen level in the lake waters brought about by weather change.

Martin Antonio of the LLDA information office said the results of new lab tests on the lake water samples it collected last week were expected to be released on Wednesday.

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Late in May, the LLDA has completed an earlier water analysis on the fish kill that showed the water conditions were normal, prompting the agency to look into other factors such as water pollution.

The fish kill started second week of May, a week after the government raised the alarm about the invasion of the knife fish, although it said the occurrences were not related.

Rolusta, who chairs the committee on environmental protection, said he believed the fishermen should be entitled to the fund and that he would bring the matter to the municipal council. He was referring to the 35-percent share of the municipal government from fishpen fees that the LLDA collects yearly under a 1983 executive order defining the agency’s functions and powers.

He said he was informed by the municipal treasurer that the fees amount to “roughly P150,000 annually.” But he said that the LLDA money had already been incorporated in the local government’s general fund, which, he added, was being used for all other projects.

Rolusta said he would propose an ordinance to classify the LLDA contribution as a “special emergency fund” to be released solely for lake-related projects and emergencies, such as fish kills.

Around 200 fishermen in Barangay Sucol in Calamba were affected by the recent fish kill, according to FARMC chair Lito Capitan. An operator of a fishpen with one ton of tilapia would need around P50,000 to replace the dead fish, he said.

“Damage had reached half a million pesos in our village alone. We were not expecting this to happen just before the opening of classes when we have to pay for our children’s tuition,” Capitan said.

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In Los Baños, about 700 fishermen from the five coastal villages were affected by the fish deaths, FARMC secretary Jun Tatlin, 48, said.

The fish deaths have led to a decline in the price of tilapia being sold in markets, he said.

“We’ve lowered the price of fish per kilo from P50 to P30 and still people won’t buy them. They prefer to buy meat even if it costs them more because they are scared to eat fish,” he said.

Tatlin said authorities should refrain from calling the lake disaster a “fish kill,” saying it was “just fish mortality since only certain portions of the lake were affected.”

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TAGS: Fish kill, Fishing industry, Laguna de Bay, Laguna Lake Development Authority, News, Regions
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