Fish pen owners to get bangus fingerlings

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Friday, June 3, 2011

THE government will assist fish pen owners affected by the fish kill in Batangas and Pangasinan, as it is set to distribute bangus fingerlings to help the industry cope with the tragedy, said a Palace official.

"The National Government will be assisting fish pen owners by providing bangus fingerlings for the restocking of bangus. But this can only be done when the water quality is restored, and can be maintained, to allow fingerlings to develop properly," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

Mitigating measures are now in place to restore the quality of water in the provinces concerned.


He also appealed for a stronger partnership between the national and local authorities to address the impact of the fish kill and to prevent the incident from recurring.

"A triple dilemma at present: the disposal of tons of fish kill; the interdiction of fish kill so that it won't be sold in public markets; and the revitalization of the industry and the restoration of public confidence in bangus products, requires all concerned to work together and not at cross-purposes," he said.

Lacierda earlier said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is assisting the National Government in enforcing mitigating measures, such as lending pumps to aerate the water in Taal Lake.

"Our Agricultural and Environmental (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) authorities agree that sustainability depends on regulations and a corresponding self-control on the part of fish pen owners," he said.

As the DENR has pointed out, Taal Lake is a protected area and the optimum number of fish cages should be 6,000, according to Lacierda.

"The hard choice that local administrators have to make, and which industry players need to abide by, is to maintain a healthy limit on fish pens if the industry is to be sustainable," he said.

"It is in everyone's interest to pay attention to the science of it all, so that what emerges is a revitalized and rationalized bangus industry that is able to generate income and jobs in a sustainable manner," he added.

Livelihood assistance to fishers

In a separate report, the labor department is mulling a plan to provide livelihood assistance to fishers of Batangas and Pangasinan affected by fish kill.

The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) is prepared to deploy its quick response team (QRT) to assist those affected by the natural calamity, Labor Communications Director Nicon Fameronag said.

"Our quick response teams are already on the alert. We are only waiting for the report from the DA in the number of displaced workers before we could start extending our livelihood assistance to the affected fishermen," he said.

The teams are expected to provide job matching and counseling, skills training, livelihood assistance, and emergency employment to the stricken fishermen, Fameronag said.

Moreover, a P10 million emergency fund has been released and it will be used to assist the affected fishermen after the two provinces have declared under a state of calamity.

Fameronag also disclosed that Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz and Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala held a meeting that discussed possible assistance the agencies could extend to the locals.

Weather changes prompted lower water oxygen levels, killing thousands of milkfish (bangus) and tilapia.

Damages have been estimated at P76.586 million, a figure that is expected to rise as soon as data from Pangasinan has been released, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources said. (Jill Beltran/FP/Sunnex)

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