Dagupan is a coastal City with seven (7) river tributaries crisscrossing within and across its territory. The City’s primary economic backbone is the aquaculture industry. Milkfish, locally known as Bangus is the prime aquaculture product of Dagupan. Before the implementation of the initiative, the water quality of our rivers is in its poorest state because of various environmental concerns that affected our rivers.
According to a scientific study made by the City on its aquaculture industry, as early as 1985, the rivers and coastal waters of Dagupan City have been declared as overfished. In 1990, the Catch per Unit Effort was reported to have dropped to 1 kilogram per fisher per day. This triggered the fisherfolk to use non-traditional means of fishing that is more yielding. As a result, fish pen operation became the most popular aquaculture practice because it is more economical and more profitable, compared to other traditional means.
However, this practice was found to have negative effects on the environment. Fishpen operation, a major aquaculture practice in the past was identified to be a primary contributor to the downgrade of the quality of our river waters.
Feed waste, a by-product of fish pen operation is a proteinaceous material, which generates a number of metabolic by-products that were harmful if not toxic to aquatic life. These include ammonia, nitrate, sulfide, and methane. While aquaculture farmers pushed further their stocking densities, the use of artificial feeds became necessary throughout the culture period. Aside from this, the number of solid wastes in the City rivers have increased due to the presence of illegal settlers along the area.
The lack of toilet facilities of the informal settlers along the river has brought some health risks due to the bacterial contamination of the rivers. Their source of potable water was also polluted.
Aside from health hazards, uncontrolled fishpen operations aggravated the City’s vulnerability to floods. Fishpens installed in the rivers hamper the free flow of water during rainy season. In effect, river waters overflow causing floods that affects almost all people of Dagupan.