The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be tapping fisherfolk to harvest water hyacinth, or more commonly known as water lily, which have been invading water bodies in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said the agency is launching a livelihood project that would allow fisherfolk to exchange their water lily harvest for cash amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the efforts to clean the water bodies like the Napindan Channel, these waterlilies continue to spread. So, we at the DENR proposed this project not only to get rid of these pollutants, but also to provide an alternative livelihood for the fisherfolk amid the health crisis we are facing,” Antiporda said.

Napindan Channel is where water flows from Laguna Lake to Pasig River, and eventually to Manila Bay. These water bodies were recently infested with water lilies, which are considered as pollutant and pest plants.

Water lilies allow disease spreading vector species of mosquitoes breed freely in the static waters. The decomposition of the dead plants results in an obnoxious smell, decreases the clarity of water and depletes the dissolved oxygen content of the water, making it unsuitable for human use.

Last October 26, Antiporda had a meeting with Mayor George Ricardo Gacula II of Taytay, Rizal, where pilot testing for the livelihood project will be conducted.

After the meeting, the two officials met with members of the Samahan ng Mangingisda sa Lawa ng Taytay or SMALT to discuss the project.

Under the project, fisherfolk will gather water lilies using their nets and katig or boat outriggers and place them in sacks. The cash incentive will be based on the weight of the water lilies collected.

Gacula thanked the DENR for the initiative, saying it would be “a great help for the fisherfolk as another source of income.”

“There are times that the fish they catch from the area are not enough to provide a living. At least with this program, fisherfolk would not only have an abundant supply of water lilies to gather, they would also help the DENR in cleaning the Pasig River,” Gacula said.

Antiporda said Taytay was chosen to be the pilot site for the project due to its strategic location since the municipality’s surrounding water bodies eventually flow to Manila Bay via Pasig River.


If the project becomes successful, Antiporda said more fisherfolk will be tapped to continue the waterlily collection until the water bodies eventually become clean.

“More municipalities and cities along Pasig River will eventually be included in this project if this happens,” he added.

The livelihood project is still part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Project, considering
that Pasig River is one of the bay’s biggest tributaries. # # #