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Prelate wants end to fish farming

Operations are killing the lake, declared a protected area by the government

Prelate wants end to fish farming
Tons of dead fish floating on Taal Lake (photo: ABS-CBN TV)
Sean Salvador and staff, Manila

June 2, 2011

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A Catholic archbishop called today for an end to fish farming in the northern province of Batangas after tons of dead fish surfaced in the waters of Taal Lake on Monday. Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa said that aside from being an eyesore, the fish farming operations are killing the lake, declared a protected area by the government. Dead milkfish and tilapia began floating on Taal Lake on May 26 and by May 31 many tonnes of fish were dead. Seven towns in the province are now under a state of calamity, while prices of fish took a dive following the kill. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the province of Pangasinan is also experiencing the same problem, which is due to lack of oxygen in the water because of overpopulation in fishponds. BFAR Assistant Director Felipe Tabios Jr. said operators had been told to limit the fish in the pens to maintain a healthy level of oxygen. “We just have to wait. We told the operators not to put fish in the fishponds yet because they will compete for oxygen," Tabios said in a radio interview. He said they will test the water daily and it will take weeks or months before the oxygen level returns to normal. “In fact, I am pleased with the fish kill of bangus (milkfish) and tilapia because they will kill Taal Lake like they did in Laguna de Bay,” said Arguelles. The prelate called on the government to make the lake “100 percent fish cages free” to save it before it is too late. “The lake should be returned to Batangueños because most of its investors and operators are Koreans and Taiwanese,” he said. Arguelles the economic benefits the people could get from the fish farms in the lake is only temporary compares the damage it will create. PM14373
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