The environment office in the city government is promoting fish farming technology in inland areas that will allow the mass production of fishery products of commercial importance to minimize pressure on Puerto Princesa’s coastal waters and natural environment.
City Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) chief Atty. Carlo Gomez said through this way, fishery products are produced without destroying their natural habitats — corals, seagrass beds, mangroves, and others — since any facility on installation will be built inland. This should be promoted instead of fish pens and baklad.
Gomez said fish enclosures are regarded as unsustainable because they are permanently installed within coastal waters, catching both mature and premature fishes, including those with spawns.
“Without baklads, fish could freely reproduce and populate all fish habitats and increase their number without disrupting their natural breeding cycle during the spawning season. If left unregulated, this might cause rapid depletion of our fisheries and other marine resources,” Gomez said.
Constructing and installing fish corrals and pens are considered environmentally destructive because the majority of them are on coral reefs, which is an important ecosystem for life underwater.
The materials used in constructing and installing baklads are foreign to its natural environment, like bamboo as poles, and plastic materials, which is inconsistent with the city government’s policy that regulates the use of plastic, Gomez further explained.
He explained that it is high time for the city to invest in these fish farming technologies to produce high-value marine products inland as they could catapult Puerto Princesa into international level in fishery products production like Japan, Taiwan, China, and Singapore.
“The revival of the fish hatchery project, which the city government used to operate should be looked into. Investing in the adoption of new technology in fish farming inland will also minimize the pressure on our coastal waters by discouraging fishermen to install baklads and other similar contraptions,” Gomez said.
Fish species and other fishery resources like lapu-lapu, rabbitfish, sea urchins, and other marine products that fetch high market value can be propagated and produced in volume, utilizing new technologies like Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) which is already adopted by other countries.
RAS is also designed to recycle nearly all of the water they use, he said, which eliminates the problem of coastal pollution. It could be a fish farming technology that a predominantly fishing community like ours, may consider to capacitate locals to grow marine products beyond our seas and boost fish production inland.
“Fish farms would be moved from the ocean to recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), in which fish are housed in indoor tanks that are regulated by pumps, heaters, aerators, and filters. One of the biggest advantages of this approach is its adaptability: RAS can be located almost anywhere, from urban lots to retired hog barns,” the City ENRO quoted an article published by The Japan Times.
He said the need to restore the health of our coastal ecosystem has become more urgent, as the world is in a state of a climate crisis.
Puerto Princesa City, within Palawan island, is considered as among the country’s Last Frontier. Minimizing pressures to its coastal ecosystem by removing baklads and other contraptions, and instead encourage environment-friendly, sustainable fishing and fish farming inland would make fishing sustainable and would not in any way, compromising the needs of the future generations, Gomez added.