Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Subic resort owners want fish cages removed quickly

The Subic Bay Resorts Association (Subra) opposed the appeal of the Subic Fish Cages Operators Association (Sufcopas) to the Environmental Management Bureau to defer the agency’s cease-and-desist order on fish cages until February 2007.

The lawyer of Subra, Agustin Chan, registered the opposition in a hearing held at the EMB Central Luzon office here.

Chan said he learned of the extension request by Sufcopas only in Wednesday’s hearing on Subra’s motion for execution of the order dated Aug. 29.

Sufcopas president Danilo Avila sought the extension in a Sept. 11 letter to EMB Regional Director Lormelyn Claudio.

Avila cited the need of members for “ample time to harvest our fish” in cages in 22 hectares of the municipal waters of Subic, Zambales.

It was not known if Claudio approved or turned down the request. She was out of her office on Wednesday, attending a meeting of EMB regional directors in Quezon City, a member of her staff said.

Claudio did not reply to Inquirer’s calls and text messages. The hearing officer declined to give an official statement on the action taken by Claudio pending the latter’s clearance.

Subra’s motion filed on Nov. 23 indicated that the EMB by then had failed to fully enforce its own order. According to the group, some companies “continued to operate and even built new fish cages clearly in defiance of the said Order to the damage and prejudice of the complainants.”

The complainants include Zambales Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, Mark Figueras of the Samahang Pinagkaisa sa Pangisdaan ng Olongapo, Subic at San Antonio (Sap-Sap), Amethya de la Llana of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s ecology department and Senior Insp. Adriano Adsuara of the maritime police.

Chan said the EMB has no basis to give due course to the appeal of Sufcopas because the order was in itself final and executory.

The order gave the operators seven days to dismantle the cages and to resume only when they have secured environmental clearance certificates (ECCs) from the EMB. The order also warned of legal actions for non-compliance.

Sufcopas reported that as of Dec. 18, Sea Horse Aqua Farms reduced its fish cages from 60 to 45; Sahara from 40 to 18; JP to one hectare; and Saka from 120 to 14. Golden Aqua Harvest and Biotop reported “no operation.”

The hearing officer said these pieces of information, including inquiries on the continuing aqua-culture activities, have to be verified by actual visits to the sites. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon


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