“The threat of depletion of fish and degradation of marine resources is highly prevalent due to conversion and reclamation projects that destroy its natural ecology.”
By RUTH LUMIBAO
MANILA — In a media forum entitled ‘Tapatan sa Aristocrat’ held on March 5, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) claimed that fish in Manila Bay are free from bacterial contamination and are safe to eat. Further, the agency claimed that the water conditions and quality in Manila Bay remain normal.
Despite knowing the productivity yield of Manila Bay and its contribution not only to food security but also the livelihood of fisherfolk, BFAR has remained silent amidst the plans and initial implementation of the reclamation of Manila Bay.
“We all know that aquatic and marine products in Manila Bay are safe to eat; there are only a few people who say that it is not safe but it was never proven. But the threat of depletion of fish and degradation of marine resources is highly prevalent due to conversion and reclamation projects that destroy its natural ecology,” Fernando Hicap, chairperson of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas). Hicap is also a fisher in the Rosario, Cavite area.
“We challenge the BFAR to take a stand against these destructive corporate projects and assure that marine products in Manila Bay and other fishing grounds are always safe. This will also guarantee the food security of the Filipino people,” he added.
READ: Navotas fisherfolk hold fluvial protest vs. reclamation, demolition
The Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) also claims that these reclamation projects are meant to promote economic development and to create industries that would generate jobs for Filipinos. Ironically, one of the reclamation projects in Manila Bay is reported to be a project of Henry Sy’s SM group, in fulfillment of their deal with UK-based investment fund Ashmore Group.
Aside from reclamation projects, water waste discharges from commercial and industrial establishments and operational discharges from commercial ships also pose a threat to Manila Bay and the livelihood of the fisherfolk.
PAMALAKAYA also warned that reclamation projects in Manila Bay would displace thousands of fishing families and create a major fish shortage in the National Capital Region (NCR).