DENR defends plan to dismantle 370 'illegal' fish pens in Cavite amid opposition

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said small-scale fishermen stand to benefit from its plan to demolish "illegal" fish pens and cages in Cavite, even as a fisherfolk group warned that thousands of people will lose their livelihood.

In a briefing on Wednesday, DENR spokesperson Benny Antiporda said the unauthorized aquaculture structures only help big companies and the workers they pay, to the detriment of small fishermen.

“Nung itinayo po ‘yan, nawalan po ng espasyo para makapangisda ang ating maliliit na mangingisda, at kailangan pang bumiyahe sila ng 15 kilometers away from the shoreline,” Antiporda said.

[Translation: These structures take up space that would have benefited small fishers, forcing them to travel 15 kilometers away from the shoreline.]

The bamboo poles from the pens and cages, he added, also contribute to pollution in Manila Bay, as they are washed away during storms. According to Antiporda, 370 of these structures will be destroyed: 271 in Cavite City, 97 in Kawit, and two in Noveleta.

He also said there is no truth to reports that mussel farms or “tahungans” will be dismantled, assuring that mussel growers with permits will be allowed to operate.

The impending demolition by the DENR has been heavily opposed by some fishermen and activists, including fisherfolk group Pamalakaya which believes it is a “precursor to a massive reclamation plan in Cavite.”

The group said the demolition will wipe out their livelihood and displace their communities. It also accused the DENR of using the Manila Bay rehabilitation program to justify its “unjust and anti-fisherfolk” plan.