Manila Bay reclamation projects in Bacoor threatening local ‘Tahong’ industry

February 7, 2019 - 2:47 PM
Mussels seen in near an ocean. (Pixabay/File photo)

A group of fishermen condemned the reclamation projects being pursued in Manila Bay for affecting the “tahong” industry but this is not the first time that they have protested against such initiatives.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) accused Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla of threatening the “tahong” industry by planning reclamation projects that will affect 420 hectares of Manila Bay.

Bacoor plans to reclaim 100-hectare and 320-hectare parcels of land for two projects, namely the P13.5 billion Diamond Reclamation and Development Project and the P42 billion Bacoor Reclamation and Development Project, respectively.

The local government unit of Bacoor City is pushing for the projects along the coast of Manila Bay and in Molino Boulevard at Cavite.

Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap condemned the reclamation and said in an interview:

“While Mayor Mercado-Revilla has bragged about the ‘development’ these reclamation projects would bring to her town, she forgot to mention the devastating impact it will inflict to thousands of fishing and coastal families who will be displaced in exchange for her dream to install a commercial and business district in Manila Bay that according to her, would be bigger than the Bonifacio Global City.”

Hicap noted that Bacoor’s municipal waters would be reduced to 300 hectares instead of the original 700 hectares once the projects push through.

Stir-fried mussels
Stir-fried mussels by Weekend Chef. (Interaksyon/Dolly Dy-Zulueta)

Bacoor is known for selling delectable “tahong” or mussels in the local aquaculture industry.

In fact, the city has a festival dedicated to it every September in which locals would exhibit various dishes with “tahong” as its main ingredient in the town plaza, among others.

There would also be culinary and beauty contests, as well as informative seminars on “tahong.”

Impact on ‘tahong’ industry  

Pamalakaya in 2013 blamed previous reclamation projects in Manila Bay that similarly affected the fishermen’s livelihood and the “tahong” industry as a whole.

The implementation of the Cavite Expressway Road Extension Project affected their harvests and destroyed the marine environment, according to Myrna Candinato, head of the Pamalakaya-affiliated group Alyansa ng Mandaragat ng Bacoor, Cavite.

She said that mussel growers used to collect 200 gallons a day during the harvest season. After the project, however, they were only left with around 30 to 50 gallons a day as of 2013.

Candinato also lamented that the local “tahong” industry would be “dead in the next few years” if reclamation projects continued to be pursued by the government.

Pamalakaya and other concerned groups in 2012 filed a petition in the Supreme Court that protested a different P14-billion reclamation project which involved Manila Bay.

While it concerned another issue, the petition cited how much the Cavite Expressway Road Extension Project has greatly affected the overall livelihood of fishermen along Bacoor Bay. Part of it reads:

“Two years after the completion of the solid-based road infrastructure done through massive reclamation of not less than 5,000 hectares of foreshore waters along Bacoor Bay, a dramatic decline in fish capture and aquaculture production took place.”

It cited the experiences of fishermen, mussel growers and shell gatherers who have encountered a significant decrease in their catch, as well as the loss of their incomes.