DENR to identify suitable sites for seaweed farming

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started looking for ways to boost the local production of seaweed, which is an alternative source of income for coastal communities and could help counter the effects of climate change.

In a recent roundtable discussion on seaweed potential for biodiversity-friendly enterprises held at the training center of the Biodiversity Management Bureau in Quezon City, Secretary Gina Lopez disclosed that the DENR has already started the process of identifying suitable sites for seaweed farming in the country, with the help of other government agencies and concerned stakeholders.

She said that some of the potential seaweed farming sites include Calatagan in Batangas, Tambuyong in Quezon, Badian in Cebu, and Caluya Island in Antique, which is near Semirara Island where the controversial coal mining site and power plant is located.

Lopez said the government will not only help in seaweed propagation, but also in marketing its by-products

"The seaweed revenues should affect more than one person while developing an area," Lopez said. "We can get the country out of poverty through this project."

The DENR chief noted the strong market potential of seaweed due to its fast-growing characteristics and high market price, making it an important economic activity to alleviate poverty in the rural areas.

Apart from its economic potential, seaweed is one of the natural and effective carbon sequesters that can be found in the coastal area, and some of its species can grow alongside mangroves.

As such, one of the proposals is to get the fund for the seaweed projects from the Expanded National Greening Program and the People’s Survival Fund.

Using seaweeds for human production and consumption also helps the marine ecosystem as it reduces the organisms that are infesting other lives in the sea.

Among those who attended the meeting were representatives from the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, seaweed farmers from Tambuyog, Quezon, Badian, Cebu, and Negros Oriental, Mabunao Agricultural Forest Livelihood Improvement Program, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia, and the Department of Agriculture. ###


Lopez to sit down with Laguna Lake fishpen operators before permit moratorium

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) wants to sit down with fishpen and fishcage operators in Laguna de Bay before the planned imposition of moratorium on the issuance and renewal of their permits beginning January next year.

This was revealed by DENR Undersecretary Arturo Valdez, who also heads the National Anti-Environmental Crime Task Force (NAECTF) that recently conducted demolition operations on a 13-hectare illegal fishpen in Laguna Lake falling within the jurisdiction of Muntinlupa City.

Valdez said the dialogue between Lopez and the fishpen and fishcage operators aims to reassure the government's commitment to providing small-time fisherfolk priority access to the 90,000-hectare lake.

"The thrust there is to send the message that the DENR, under Secretary Lopez, will rationalize the lake and the bias will be for the fisherfolk to have access to their traditional fishing ground," Valdez said.

Valdez said that at the heart of the effort is Lopez's agenda to make Laguna Lake "a showcase for social justice."

"Secretary Lopez has made it very clear that the fisherfolk should enjoy the lake," he said.

The coming dialogue was in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's directive to dismantle vast tracts of corporate and private fishpens and fishcages in order for small-time fisherfolk to have access to their traditional fishing ground.

The lake’s current carrying capacity allows up to only 9,000 hectares for aquaculture, but fish pens and cages are occupying 12,375.18 hectares of the surface water, showing a total of 3,375 hectares of excess area for demolition.

But Valdez believes the actual area could be bigger. "I would say it is more than that," Valdez said.

He said that the demolition “was to send a strong message” to the operators of illegal structures to self-dismantle before they enforce the President's order to dismantle illegal aqua facilities by the second week of December.

"We will give them all the chance to harvest their stock," he added.

Data from the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) show that there are a total of 1,018 registered or legitimate fish pen and cage operators in Laguna Lake, covering a total of 9,519 hectares. Of this number, 713 are fishcage operators, while 305 are fishpen operators.

According to the LLDA, unregistered operators number to 2,261, occupying 2,856 hectares.

In all, a total of 3,246 structures (both registered and unregistered) can be found in the lake area, consisting of 358 fishpens and 2,890 fishcages which show a mix of corporations and individual owners.

The LLDA has developed a map identifying areas for fishpens, fishcages, fish sanctuaries and open fishing, and identified navigational and barangay access lanes to facilitate the movement of people, goods and services within the lake.

To ensure the maintenance of open fishing ground, the LLDA has designated fish sanctuaries covering around 30,000 hectares in Muntinlupa City, 5,000 hectares in Jala-Jala and Talim Island in Rizal and Laguna Bay, and 127 hectares in Brgy. Tabon, Binangonan, Rizal.###


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