Fish pens not needed, say execs
DAGUPAN CITY—Even without fish pens, the bangus (milkfish) industry in this bustling city will continue to thrive.
City Agriculturist Emma Molina made this assurance on Thursday to allay fears that the milkfish industry here will collapse once the city government starts removing illegally built fish pens from its rivers.
Acting Mayor Belen Fernandez ordered Molina last week to clear the city’s rivers of all illegal fishing structures that have sprouted like mushrooms in the last four months.
Molina said Dagupan bangus was raised and harvested from the 978-hectare ponds surrounding the city from 2011 to early this year, even with the earlier dismantling of illegal fishing structures to allow its rivers to “breathe and recharge.”
“Without the fish pens, our marginal fisherfolk will also be benefited because now they will have a fishing ground,” she said.
The new directive to clear the river of illegal fish pens was also issued as a deterrent to fishkill episodes that had plagued the milkfish industry.
“During that period, the lowest price of bangus grown in Dagupan did not go below P100 a kilogram,” Molina said.
Although the volume of bangus production here went down by 30 percent without the pens, bangus from the ponds was better-priced and the return of investment was faster, she said.
This city produces 2 to 3 metric tons of bangus daily. “If only people will learn to be satisfied with what they have and forget greed, we will have a better [bangus industry],” Molina said.
Who are they?
She said her office is now validating the list of owners of more than 200 fishing structures that were illegally built in the rivers traversing the Binmaley-Dagupan area.
“We really have to get the right information … We have to know who the real owners are,” she said.
Fish pens and cages have been blamed for fishkills in the past. According to experts, the oxygen levels in fish pens and cages fall because of overstocking and often because of excess feeds that settle in the bottom. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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