DAGUPAN CITY – The conversion of some fishponds here to residential or commercial area by the owners does not pose threat to the city's bangus industry nor to its economic stature.

Observers said more fishponds could possibly be subjected to conversion after the construction of the now operational De Venecia Expressway Extension (Dawel-Pantal road).

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“Technology can always increase (bangus) production other than traditional,” City Mayor Alipio Fernandez Jr. said at a recent forum.

“Dagupan is known as the seat of the bangus industry in the region because of our seven river system, complemented by the Lingayen Gulf. The perfect mixture fresh water and saline water (caused by the changing coastal tide) gives perfect salinity in our inland (fishpond) fishing industry (making the Dagupan bangus tastier than those form other areas),” Fernandez explained.

The mayor said conversion of fishpond to residential or commercial use is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The city, however, has its own zoning ordinance to address related concerns.

Meanwhile, ongoing construction in Barangay Bonuan Binloc is a Fish Processing Plant which will later enable bangus producers to export their product.

The South Korean government, through the Korean International Cooperation Agency (Koica) gave a $2.2 million grant for the said project. This was sourced by fourth district Representative Jose de Venecia Jr. when he was still the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The city hopes to inaugurate said facility on April in time of the annual Bangus Festival.

At the same forum, the mayor clarified that the city is not threatened with the continuous economic growth of Urdaneta City.

“There is no threat, the city it will grow on its own and will have its own stability. If Urdaneta grows then we are happy as we are sister cities, as well as, it is part of Pangasinan,” he remarked.

“We do not compete. Each city has its own attributes. We simply address the growth of Dagupan and make it continuing and sustainable,” he added.

Fernandez said Dagupan has four pillars for growth, namely, trade and commerce; banking and finance; tertiary education; and health care.

“We have our own Central Bank clearing house here simply because of the many business establishments here. Except for the Region 1 (Ilocos Region) Medical Center, the rest are owned by the private sector. We do not have public school for tertiary because we do not want to disturb the private sector initiatives as they are successful. The role of the government is not to interfere but to allow them to grow,” he added.