“No to fish cages” is the stand of the fisherfolk groups who recently attended the Science and Policy Forum for Sustainable Laguna Lake Management in Tagaytay City. The fisherfolks believe that the fish pens hinder the productivity of municipal fishers whose livelihood depends much on the lake.

Some fisherfolks in the municipalities of Calamba, Los Baños, and Bay, all in Laguna, participated in a study conducted by Carmelita M. Rebancos titled “Perception and Scenario Building for South Bay Communities of Laguna de Bay, Laguna, Philippines.” They were asked of possible scenarios based on past and present condition of the lake.

The study presented four scenarios, of which the most desired future condition of the lake is one wherein the lake is restored, the water is clear, deep and teeming with native fish; one where open fishing would mean access to greater areas of the lake.

Several studies have shown that the water quality and so as the fishes have been deteriorating in the last forty to fifty years. In the 1960s the fisherfolks recall the time of less fish cages, abundant catch, and clear water. Today, the proliferation of fish cages makes it difficult for them to catch fish.

The last scenario is ecotourism wherein the lake would be developed as a tourist destination. Taking the fisherfolks’ views and experiences into account, the researchers “conceptualized optimal lake use which balances fisheries, ecotourism, water resources, power generation, and lake rehabilitation.”

Nereus Acosta, general manager of the Laguna Lake Development Authority, however, said that while he understands where the fisherfolks are coming from, eradicating fish pens is not going to be as easy as it seems to be. But he is willing to sit down with the various sectors concerned, such as the fisherfolks, the policy makers, the academicians and other environment experts to determine possible solutions to the problems of Laguna de Bay.

General Manager Nereus Acosta, of the Laguna Lake Development Authority during an open forum for the Lake Ecosystem Assessment in the Philippines

The forum was a collaboration of the Department of Science and Technology, National Research Council of the Philippines (DOST-NRCP) and School of Environmental Science and Management – University of the Philippines, Los Baños.

To know more about the services of NRCP, visit their website:  (By Geraldine Bulaon-Ducusin, S&T Media Service, DOST-STII / Photos by Val Zabala, DOST-NRCP)