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Fish cages return to Batangas

PHILIPPINES - Illegally-built fish cages are back in the Pansipit River, a protected area, after five years, choking a key passageway of the endemic maliputo fish from Balayan Bay to their breeding ground in Taal Lake.

"We cannot stop the people from constructing fish cages since the river has long been empty of themand we have to utilise its resources," said Pablo Inumerable, barangay chair of Pansipit.

At least 120 fish cages have been put up off San Nicolas and Agoncillo towns, according to Pusod Inc., an environmental nongovernment organization, which conducted a biodiversity monitoring system in the river on 11 October. The Inquirer, which accompanied the group, even witnessed men building the cages and salambaw, another bamboo facility used to catch fish.

Boats can pass only through the middle portion of Pansipit because both sides are already occupied by the cages.

In 2002, the provincial government dismantled 623 fish cages in Pansipit. A village official, who declined to be identified because of his sensitive position in the community, confirmed that some residents had begun building the cages because they had no other source of livelihood.