South Cotabato allots P3M for plastic fish cages in Lake Sebu

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 April) — The provincial government of South Cotabato has allocated an initial P3 million for the rollout this year of innovative plastic fish cages to help improve the condition of the critical Lake Sebu.

Loida Villa, forest and inland water division chief of the Provincial Environment Management Office, said Tuesday the move mainly aims to replace the traditional bamboo fish pens at the lake with permanent and durable plastic fish cages.

She said the plastic fish cages that they will introduce are designed to help reduce the organic load and improve water circulation at the lake.

They are made of pipes and plastic containers that will also serve as the floaters, she explained.

“These will eventually minimize water pollution and other related problems at the lake,” Villa said.

The official said the use of the plastic fish cages will allow operators to save on their operational costs as they are assured of long-term use and with minimal maintenance.

She said it will further enhance the area’s aquaculture sector as well as the thriving tourism industry.

“We will eventually have uniform fish pen structures, which will greatly improve the lake’s overall landscape,’ she said.

Villa said they will initially offer the plastic fish cages to fish farmers and cage operators who are bonafide residents of Lake Sebu town.

She said they could avail of them through the local government’s “Convert Now, Pay Later” program.

Each recipient could avail of a loan grant worth P20,000 that will cover for the materials and labor costs for the installation of the plastic fish cages, she said.

Villa said the loans will be repaid by the recipients or grantees through an installment scheme.

“We’re targeting to install 150 fish cages until the third quarter of the year through the P3-million investment,” she said.

She said the project’s funding will be sourced from the 5-percent component of the provincial government’s calamity fund for 2015.

The provincial government adopted the use of the plastic fish cages to help address the deteriorating condition of the lake that has led to the perennial occurrence of kamahong, a phenomenon that is mainly caused by the sudden rise in the water’s temperature.

Kamahong, which usually occurs during the rainy season, triggers the rise of sulfuric acid in the lake’s waters that eventually caused the massive fish kill.

Fishery experts had also attributed the problem to the overcrowding of fish cages at the 354-hectare lake. (MindaNews)