Govt cleans up Lake Sebu, Seloton in South Cotabato
Around 25 hectares of two major lakes in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato had been cleared of illegal structures and water lilies as part of a continuing local government-led clean-up program.
Loida Villa, senior environment management specialist of the Provincial Environment management Office (PEMO), said Monday the accomplishment was the result of the cleanup activities conducted in lakes Sebu and Seloton as of the end of June.
Villa said the hired community workers cleared around 22 hectares of Lake Seloton of water lilies, including at least 72 floating bamboo frames used for fish pens and other related purposes. More than two hectares of Lake Sebu were cleaned of water lilies and 250 rotten bamboo poles, she added.
“This is a continuing activity as we really need to maintain the carrying capacity of the lakes to proper levels,” she said.
Villa said PEMO and the municipal government of Lake Sebu hired some 40 workers from local communities to conduct the cleanup of the lakes.
She said the clean-up drive for both lakes has a total budget of P160,000, with the Lake Sebu municipal government setting aside a monthly allocation of P50,000 for the initiative.
Villa said the cleanup activities will continue until the two lakes are cleared of all illegal structures and water lilies.
PEMO and the municipal government have been pushing for the reduction of areas used for aquaculture at the lakes to 10 percent, as provided for in Section 51 of Republic Act 8850 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
The municipality of Lake Sebu has three lakes–Lake Sebu (354 hectares), Lake Seloton (48 hectares) and Lake Lahit (24 hectares). The continuing cleanup program was an offshoot of a major fish kill in the area last year that destroyed around P126 million worth of tilapia.
Experts noted that the overcrowding of fish cages at the lake, the proliferation of water hyacinths and the use of commercial feeds by operators have caused its waters to deteriorate, triggering fish kills.
They were blamed for the 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 causes the massive fish kill. (PNA)