DENR starts inspection of Laguna de Bay fish pens
SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna—The government on Friday began inspecting fish pens in Laguna de Bay after receiving reports that guards hired by operators were armed with unlicensed guns.
Environment Undersecretary Arturo Valdez said the inspection was in preparation for another round of demolition of the aquaculture structures on Feb. 14.
Valdez said the inspection would cover “Sector A” of the lake, referring to sections of Muntinlupa City and this city in Laguna province.
He said they target to inspect about 15 fish pens owned by large corporations spanning about 2,000 hectares.
READ: Fish pens strangle Laguna de Bay
Fish pen operators who were given rights by the government to use hectares of the surface water to culture bangus (milkfish) and tilapia usually hired at least 10 people to guard their structures.
These people are reportedly armed to protect fish stock against fishermen who steal the fish by cutting nets that secure the pens.
“We are on several boats with the PNP (Philippine National Police) and the Coast Guard. I don’t think they (private guards) will resist [if we inspect the structures],” said Valdez in a telephone interview from the lake.
He said the police would check if the guns were covered by proper licenses and other documents.
“[If the guns have permits] then we’ll leave it at that,” Valdez said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his State of the Nation Address last year, said he wanted the lake area occupied by fish pens to be reduced to allow small fishermen access to their traditional fishing areas.
READ: Gov’t starts dismantling fish pens in Laguna de Bay
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Laguna Lake Development Authority in December last year issued a temporary moratorium on Laguna de Bay aquaculture and began demolishing illegal structures last month./rga
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