By Mortz C. Ortigoza
DAGUPAN CITY – The dozens of fish pens here that were objects of criticism from some quarters are disputable titled properties that only a national government body can determine whether they can be demolished or not.
A resident of Masinloc, Zambales excitedly holds the arm of Dagupan City Mayor Belen
Fernandez. She was overjoyed to
meet the mayor she and other residents there saw only on national television broadcast
from Dagupan City.
Fishermen, tricycle drivers, and sales ladies in Infanta, Pangasinan and Sta. Cruz and
Masinloc, Zambales immediately recognized and warmly greeted the mayor
when they saw her.
Mayor Fernandez would be going in the middle of June to the United
Nations in New York City as resource speaker on environment of the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). MORTZ C. ORTIGOZA
These were the recent positions of this city’s mayor Belen Fernandez and Legal Officer George Mejia who is a former judge.
Both said in a recent meeting here that the Department of Environment & Natural Resource has the say if those lands are legal or illegal.
According to City Agriculturist Officer Emma Molina there are more or less 80 fish pens that were built on the Calmay River.
Molina said these owners emphatically argued that their fish pens have been built on the lands that were submerged by the river.
Mayor Fernandez cited that the personnel of Bantay Ilog could not just demolish these structures since there are legal procedures that should be followed.
She cited that upon assumption of office in 2013, there were 351 fish structures that sprouted in the previous Lim Administration that her administration demolished as they were not only nuisance but hampered the water way.
The mayor, who was just reelected for her second term, disclosed that those poquet, balikwas, skylab, surewin, skyblue, fish cage, oyster bed, oyster raft, and others that can be seen near the river banks that surround the island barangays of Pugaro, Salapingao, Calmay-Carael, and Tanap-Dawel- are 90 percent owned by the people there who depended on them for their survival.
“Iyong mga maliliit, bakit aalisin? Libo iyan mga walang hanapbuhay iyan mamatay pag walang makain. Sabi ko pagandahin ko ang ilog para ano? Siyempre may justification,” she sentimentally rebutted the critics who wanted that these bamboo structures be pulled out as they were eyesores.
In the meeting here attended by Fernandez, members of Bantay Ilog, and some of the department heads of the local government here, Molina said that these structures did not help poison the river as their nets are floating.
Fernandez said she would help these marginal fishermen through scholarship and even procure them a fish cage and banca worth thirty thousand pesos for each of the families there.
In Executive Order No. 13A Series of 2016 or the Implementing Guidelines for City Ordinance
No. 2048-2015 as amended by the Sanggunian Panlungsod in October 20, 2015, the mayor succinctly wrote: “The Ordinance now declares that the establishment and operation of fish pens in all City waters is prohibited. As such the areas designated as fish pens areas in Section 36 of Ordinance No. 1768-2003 Otherwise known as the “Dagupan City Coastal Fisheries Ordinance of Year 2003” are hereby cancelled and will be opened for the use of fish cage operation, fish traps (poquet, batikwas, skylab, surewin, and skyblue) and oyster culture structures.
Excerpts of Ordinance No. 2048-2015 said that each operators of fish traps like poquet, balikwas, skylab, surewin, sky blue and others would have a yearly fee of Php 750 permit; Each operators of Aqua Structure (fish culture) like fish cage or bilayan has annual fee of P500 with maximum area of 25 sqm; Each operators of aqua culture structures (oyster culture) like oyster bed or traditional stake method has an annual fee of P250 with maximum area of 100 sqm; each operators of oyster raft has a yearly fee of P750 with area of more than 200 sqm but not to exceed 300 sqm, while P250 for a maximum area of 36 sqm.