MANILA, April 10, 2008 (AFP) – She helped turn many of the world’s prawn farmers into millionaires, but Jurgenne Primavera now worries that her life’s work might have indirectly accelerated the destruction of fish nurseries. The Filipina zoologist, whose research on breeding the black tiger prawn became a manual that revolutionised the aquaculture industry, pointed at 66 hectares (163 acres) of brackish water fishponds at the bottom of a windy bluff in this seaside town south of Manila.
Local conservationists have filed a landmark suit against the owner, a wealthy lawyer accused of killing off mangroves — trees that grow on marshy coasts and serve as vital nurseries for the young of open-sea fish species.
“The law bans cutting of mangroves, but he (the fishpond owner) skirted that by building dikes that cut off the seawater, until the trees eventually died,” said Jessie de los Reyes, a local marine ecology advocate.
“Now the community is suffering because their ground water has turned salty and their access to fishing areas has been cut,” de los Reyes added. The case is pending.
Despite cheap government loans and generous land leases in the 1970s, prawn culture failed to reach its full potential in the Ph