Laguna de Bay set for aquaculture revival

Laguna de Bay set for aquaculture revival

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is planning to improve the aquaculture output of Laguna de Bay to better supply Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

In a statement on Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr., said the objective is to lower the cost of fish in the surrounding communities.

“Our aim is to produce more food at lower prices. For example, bring back bangus (milkfish) prices to P50-P70 per kilo. Maximizing the aquaculture potential of (Laguna de Bay) is essential to achieving that goal. If we can add more capacity, then let’s do it,” Mr. Laurel added.

Laguna de Bay currently produces about 90,000 metric tons of freshwater fish annually and provides livelihoods to 13,000 fisherfolk, according to the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA).

The LLDA board includes the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, and Trade and Industry; the National Economic and Development Authority, the Office of the President, and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

The DA said that aquaculture associations from Laguna de Bay have asked the department to address falling yields due to the rising mortality of fingerlings and to make water quality more suitable for bangus production following encroachment of salt water.

Mr. Laurel said he plans to meet with Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to discuss programs for Laguna de Bay, including new rules for opening floodgates to improve conditions for aquaculture.

Fish found or grown in Laguna Lake include goby, mudfish, ayungin, bangus, catfish, kanduli, tilapia, and common carp.

In 1999, the LLDA allocated 10,000 hectares of Laguna de Bay to fishpen operators.

“Pollution continues to threaten the lake as a viable source of fish,” the DA said. — Adrian H. Halili