THE sudden proliferation of illegal fishpens in most of the rivers in Dagupan is financed by some 25 businessmen who are reportedly supporters of outgoing Mayor Benjamin Lim and contributed to his campaign funds for the May 13 election.
City Agriculturist Emma Molina, speaking during the KBP forum on Thursday, pointed out that as of March 29 this year, there were only 24 illegal fish pens discovered but these suddenly mushroomed since to 205 as of last week.
Molina said only moneyed individuals can possibly put up these fish pens, which require about P500,000 in initial investment to cover the structure, fingerlings, feeds and other incidental expenses.
Molina said the problem of illegal fish pens in Dagupan is “greed-driven”, hinting that only affluent businessmen would be willing to risk in this kind of venture.
However, these financiers have remained anonymous since only designated caretakers manage the illegal structures and its operations who refuse to identify their employers.
Molina said they have started to demolish the illegal fish pens on orders of Acting Mayor Belen Fernandez who strongly indicated that fish pens will not be tolerated under her watch.
Molina clarified that while her office sends notice to violators, the River Control Protection and Management Office under Butch Gutierrez is responsible for monitoring and demolishing illegal fish pens.
Fernandez, the mayor-elect, said Gutierrez appeared to have deliberately tolerated the construction of these fish pens in various rivers during the election period.
Fernandez led a team that inspected all the rivers last Tuesday where she saw the river in Barangay Lucao already turning blackish as a result of the unregulated construction of illegal fish pens in the area.
The bigger concentration of fish pens are in Barangays Salapingao, Pugaro, Calmay, Carael, Poblacion Oeste, Tapuac and Lucao.
There are also fishpens in Barangays Pantal and Bonuan Gueset.
The barangay chairman of Pantal was tagged as one of the owners of the illegal fishpens.
Fernandez said she is bent on cleaning and clearing the rivers and restore these for the fishermen who make a living through their “batikwas”, “skylab”, oyster props or net fishing.
The acting mayor already requested Dr. Westly Rosario, chief of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center based in Dagupan, to help small fishermen undertake sustainable fishing.
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